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August 1, 2013 / tyandolivia

Living Fearlessly Among Satan’s Lies

Today, I am not writing about food. Sorry.

Today, I am writing about passion. About journeying. About love.

About living fearlessly.

Fear has been a recurring topic in my mind for the past several weeks. My minister has been preaching about it. I’ve been reading Jon Acuff’s book Start and he writes about punching fear in the face. The power of fear is on my mind.

This coupled with no job and a lot of time inside my mind has led to some interesting dinner conversations during which I talk nonstop and Ty looks at me wide-eyed and overwhelmed. Whenever I finally stop talking he usually says something to the effect of “HOW do you have so much to say???”

Oh well. But back to Living fearlessly.

It sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? To be fearless. Fiercely fearless.

But I keep getting hung up on the word. Fearless. Without fear.

If you approach something without fear…is it really worthwhile? Is it amazing? Is it risky? While I love the idea of living fearlessly, I can’t help but wonder if a life worth living is led completely without fear.

Isn’t the fear factor what makes something exciting? Daring? Worthwhile?

If it’s easy, it wouldn’t strike a chord of fear within me. If there is no risk, why be afraid?

Satan is so powerful. I’m a Christian, did you know that? I am.

So, let’s get real – Satan is super powerful. As much as we like to think of our life as “just me and God” it’s not. It’s me, God and Satan. He is the third and mostly invisible character in the story of our lives.

And he likes it that way. He wants us to forget that he’s there. That the doubt, guilt and paralyzing fear is because we just don’t have what it takes. We can’t do something amazing. We can’t make a difference.

I will never do anything more than live and die. No one will remember me. What I do doesn’t matter. I’m just here. Changing diapers. Sweeping the floor that will just get dusty again. Driving to the grocery store and back home. That’s it. That’s all I do.

LIES! He lies! Satan is a lying, good-for-nothing, no-good (ha, these are Christian curses) LIAR! Do not listen to him!

God does not call us to be perfect. He is perfect. That’s why he is the biggest character in the story.

He calls us to believe and be faithful. Obedient. Trusting. Not perfect. He will do that for us.

He just wants our faith to be bigger than our fear. Think of it as a seesaw where faith is a 500-pound lion and fear is a 100-pound python (fear is no weak little minnow).

God can work with that. He can work with anything, really. But the great stories are the one’s where our faith is bigger than our fear. That is living fearlessly. That is living big. That is living in a way worth talking about.

My biggest fear at this exact moment? Publishing this post. This could be a bunch of mushy gushy mumbo jumbo to someone.

But maybe, to someone else, it’s what they needed to hear. It’s what I needed to say.

July 10, 2013 / tyandolivia

Ty’s Italian Flatbread

Dough and I have a bad history. Pie crust dough, biscuit dough, pizza dough, you name it. We have never really gotten along. Well, except cookie dough. But other than that I’ve just never been able to wield the sticky dough into something edible.

Until now.

As a stay at home mom, I am trying to take on the bulk of the cooking and I’m realizing how much my fear of dough is holding me back. So I have decided to give it another try.

The other night, I made Ty’s recipe for flatbread. It was interesting as Ty usually cooks it on the grill and uses a pizza stone. Well, our pizza stone cracked (twice) and so we no longer have one. And I leave the grill to Ty.

So, I baked it. And it worked!

This is the part where everything usually breaks down. I can make the dough, but rolling it into something without it breaking or getting flour all over the entire kitchen is another matter.


As per Ty’s instructions, I cut the dough in half to make two flatbreads. This was surprisingly easy. After baking the bread, I added my toppings. I baked two chicken breasts in balsamic vinegar (for the protein) and shredded one of the chickens for the flatbread leaving the other for Ty to take for lunch. Then I added sliced tomatoes that I marinated in a little balsamic, mozzarella pearls, garlic (of course), artichokes and fresh basil from my garden.

This is what it looked like before I put it back in the oven to meld together. Anyone notice something…off?


Next time, I’ll be adding the basil last. Let’s just say, the basil was…crunchy. Otherwise, a success!

July 8, 2013 / tyandolivia

Crate and Barrel Catalog Pasta

Somehow, I got on the Crate and Barrel catalog mailing list. I love getting the catalog even though I only ever buy anything there the day after Christmas when everything is dramatically marked down.

However, every time I flip through the catalog, I find myself looking for recipes rather than product prices. Whoever is making the food for those dishes is awesome. Every single time, I want to eat whatever they’re eating.

So this time I did. I have no idea what the actual recipe for this is, but I will call it “Crate and Barrel Catalog Pasta”. I added sausage to mine since it felt like it needed something extra for dinner. As far as I can tell, this is a shell pasta, with mozzarella pearls (my first time ever using them, they are wonderful), grape tomatoes, basil and pepper.

Doesn’t this look delish???


The actual catalog pasta courtesy of

And my version:


May 3, 2013 / tyandolivia

Meal Planning – What a Novel Idea

Last week, Ty gently reminded me I had a whole $40 left in our grocery budget.

This was not news to me. He had left up on my computer that morning (coincidence?) and I had seen exactly how much money I’d already spent that month on food and household items. Ty loves He loves budgeting.

Like most Americans, I love having money and also buying everything I want. It’s good I married Ty.

Anyway, $40 is a lot, right? I thought I may actually be able to come in under budget this month considering we already had leftovers in the fridge and some frozen meat in the freezer. All I needed was to pick up a couple items and then I’d be good for the rest of the week.

Wrong. Somehow all of these other necessary items jumped in my cart and I’d spent $46 and still didn’t know what we’d be eating this week.

That is what led me to actually write out a meal plan for the following week. I didn’t stick to it exactly as our schedule changed, but overall it worked really well. I didn’t come in under budget but I came in right where I was supposed to.

So this month, I am going to write out a meal plan for the month. No, I won’t spend 6 hours in one weekend to make and freeze 46 crock pot meals (what the what?!) and I won’t stick to the plan like a drill sergeant. But it will give me a chance to actually buy what we need and may even lead to some tasty meals.

The truth is, I’ve become bored with our meals and with cooking. I have a stead supply of chicken thighs, chicken breasts and ground beef coming out of my freezer and while those three staples have never let me down, my imagination is running out of meals that are easy to make and don’t require an extra trip to the store for that one key ingredient I don’t already have.

Hence the lack of blog posts.

Anyway, just by planning out the meals for a week, I saw that I can be creative and frugal. Rather than waking up, pulling something out of the freezer and hoping it morphs into a meal by the time Ty gets home, I actually have a meal I want to eat and the ingredients to make them.

This is not a novel idea. I know my mother did this, but I’m just now getting it. Here are a few meals I see in our future for May:

  • Salmon with mango salsa
  • Fish tacos
  • Shrimp with…something
  • Ribs
  • Chicken wings
  • Ty’s mom’s white bean soup (upon request)

I’m excited about these meals. I’m learning I don’t have to eat boring food just to save money but rather planning my meals will keep me within my budget.

Everyone wins!

April 22, 2013 / tyandolivia

All You Do Is…

I have returned to the blogosphere for a special day: my sister’s birthday. Happy Birthday to the one who taught me that All You Do Is…

When we were living in Atlanta, Sarah would invite me over for dinner once a week for “family night”. She’d make a meal and I would bring dessert, usually of the frozen variety from Publix (not Kroger because all the cute guys were at Publix. This is a real thing.)

Anyway, we’d be eating and I would exclaim at how delicious it was and every. single. week. she would say, “It’s so easy, all you do is…” and then proceed to tell me exactly how to make whatever it was we were eating.

This continues today. Sarah has taught me so much in life from how to ride my bike (avoid SAND and GLASS), how to straighten my hair (a lot of product) and how to make so many easy dishes from black bean tacos to sausage, asparagus and mozzarella pasta (so delish).

She is an amazing wife, mother and follower of Christ. I love how happy she gets over the simplest things and how hard she works at home and in her job.

And although Nora Ephron has declared her past the bikini-wearing age in life, I think we can all agree she still has it goin’ on.


Happy birthday Sissy, love you!!!

April 10, 2013 / tyandolivia

My Refrigerator Ate My Pie

I made the most amazing chocolate cream pie Friday. And then my refrigerator ate it.


I had a schedule for my day. Wake up, feed my son (Trey), put him down for a nap, write this blog, eat lunch, feed Trey, go for a run, pick up prescription, feed my son, put him down for a nap, shower, make pie, do my hair, feed Trey, go to the neighbor’s house for dinner.

Everything was going according to plan until the time I was supposed to put Trey down for his second nap. He was greatly displeased and expressed his thoughts on the matter for about 40 minutes. Thinking maybe he wasn’t tired since he took a marathon nap in the morning, I decided to let him stay up a little longer and watch me make the pie. My first mistake.

I have made this pie so many times, it’s ridiculous. I have also messed it up so many times, it’s even more ridiculous. This is not a difficult pie to make. But it’s decadent and homemade. That’s why I make it for friends. That’s why I was making it to bring to dinner at my neighbor’s house. It looks fancy and tastes delicious.

I usually mess up the pie when I go too fast or only cook with half my brain in the game. That wasn’t the case this time. I checked my ingredients two days in advance and went to the store to buy what was needed. I baked the pie shell first. I measured out all the ingredients. I added the egg yolks perfectly (no scrambled eggs in my chocolate, thank you very much!) Everything was going great.

Up until it was time to put it in the fridge. That’s when Trey decided he was really done with being awake and watching me make a pie isn’t all that interesting when he’s only two-feet tall and can’t even sit up, let alone see what’s going on on the stove. Thus, the screaming commenced.

I told him I would just put the pie in the fridge and then put him down for a nap. I pick up the pie and start for the fridge. That’s when I started to feel the pie buckle in the middle.

I take the pie and put it back on the counter. Maybe I just need a better grip.

I pick up the pie from either side between my pointer fingers and my thumbs and head back toward the fridge. God only knows why I thought it wouldn’t buckle the second time.

I am inches…inches from the shelf when the whole thing buckles and leaps out of my hand and into the fridge.

Chocolate custard is everywhere. So is the pie crust. All I can think of is the two cups of milk and three egg yolks that are now congealed across my whole fridge and on the floor.

Oh yes, Trey is still screaming. He is now reaching that screech from the back of his throat that makes my whole body want to crumple up and press my hands against my ears.

So what did I do? Honestly, I hardly remember, I think I’ve blocked a lot of the next hour from my mind. I went and put Trey down (somehow) and came back to my disaster. I truly wish Ty had been there. I didn’t even know how to begin cleaning it up.

Well, two rolls of paper towels, two desperate voicemail messages, one photo text message to Ty, three kitchen towels and one swifter sweeper later and the fridge was clean.

Yes, all of the contents of the fridge were on the counter as I didn’t trust myself to put the glass shelf back in (I have a history of breaking glass). Yes, Trey was crying again. Yes, my hair was still wet, I had chocolate all over my clothes and on the verge of a serious breakdown.

Fortunately, I also had a box of brownie mix in the pantry. Ty finally called me back, picked up more eggs and a carton of vanilla ice cream and I was back in the game.

Well, except for my screaming son and my wet hair, but when Ty got home, both of those problems resolved themselves as well.

Why, WHY did I not pick up the pie from the bottom instead of holding it on either side of the shell? I still don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever picked it up that way before. Every time I make this pie I make some elementary mistake.

One time, I made the custard before I realized I hadn’t baked the pie shell yet. Since I didn’t have any more eggs, I stirred the chocolate on the stove to keep it from burning for 30 minutes while the oven heated up, the shell baked and then cooled.

Another time, I whisked in three whole eggs and not just the yolks. Scrambled egg chocolate disgustingness.

Lesson learned, always pick up the pie from the bottom, not the sides. Although, I think I’ll be giving this pie a bit of a break. It has failed me too many times.


A last look at the carnage.

April 5, 2013 / tyandolivia

Fact for Friday: Allspice Does Not Mean “All the Spices”

In case anyone was getting the idea that I’m a really amazing cook or know what I’m doing in the kitchen, let me set the record straight with a simple vignette from my own kitchen.

The stage: It’s two weeks ago, 6 p.m. and I’m making Ina Garten’s roast chicken. Ty is sitting at the table surfing the internet, probably on

Me: Hmmm, do we have any thyme? Or sage?

Ty: (doesn’t look up) I don’t know. Did you check the spice cabinet?

Me: (pulling out every packet of spices out of the cabinet) Yes. Oh well. (pause). I guess I’ll just use some allspice.

Ty: (jerks to attention) What? Why? Does the recipe call for that?

Me: Well, no, but I don’t have the spices it calls for. Allspice is like a generic spice, right?

Ty: (laughs heartily and rushes over to snatch it out of my hand). Um, no. Allspice doesn’t mean “all the spices”. It tastes more sweet, like cinnamon.

Me: Oh. Ah. Yes, not what I need.

I have no idea how I resolved the problem, I think I threw in some rosemary and called it a day.


Allspice does not mean “all the spices”

Here is an actual fact about allspice: it is the berry of the Pimenta dioica plant. Most of the world’s allspice comes from Jamaica.

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