january in a nutshell.

How has it already been a month since Christmas? January has been so busy for us. Awesome, but busy. Here's a quick recap.

Dr. John Piper preaching at Immanuel Nashville
January 11–12, Immanuel hosted John Piper for the Immanuel Theology Group. Originally it was going to be part of the closed group for the 130 or so men who registered for ITG but a week out with interest rising, the decision was made to open it to the public … for free. So instead of 130 attendees, we had upwards of 800. He spoke on the Supremacy of God and the Great Commission and it was great. Dr. Piper also preached on Sunday. Our average attendance on Sunday is about 400, and that Sunday we had 1,150—beyond what we thought was our capacity (900). We went through a lot of coffee that weekend. Pounds and pounds and gallons and gallons, for the glory of God.

Last weekend was the Women's Immanuel Theology Group. Jayne Clark came from Westminster Theological Seminary and taught about comforting sufferers. She has like 20 years experience in biblical counseling so it was really helpful and practical. She recommended a number of CCEF resources, including Relationships: A Mess Worth Making which I downloaded for Kindle for only $3. I'm only two chapters in so far but it is so good. I recommend it for anyone who struggles with less-than-perfect relationships in a fallen world—which is everyone, and Christ can redeem that.

Me sleeping with Odie on my Bump Nest pillow.
I'm a few days away from the third trimester which means only 12 weeks and a few days left before my due date. Crazy! I've felt awesome since 17 weeks and now at 27, I am starting to get more tired again. Like fall-asleep-at-7:30 tired. Fortunately still alert during the whole workday but I crash when I get home. Nate's sister Hannah sent me a Bump Nest pillow and it has revolutionized my sleep. I keep saying, "I feel like I'm being hugged by clouds!" It makes sleeping on my side a lot easier and more comfortable. When I get up for work, if Nate works later, he likes to take my place in the pillow. I offered it to him this morning when I left but he said, "No, if I use it, I'll sleep til noon."

Nate and I both had Monday off, so we took advantage of a Cheesecake Factory gift card and discounted movie tickets (employee perks program) and free popcorn (movie theater loyalty program). We saw American Hustle and then got a delicious dinner. I had steak and potatoes and went to bed uncomfortable because I was so full!

Last night we had our first experience with actually frying anything, and I wouldn't recommend frying without one. Nate found a recipe for beer battered fish and went to the store and got everything we needed. I made up the batter, we thawed the fish, and started heating the oil in a huge pot on the stove. We were trying to use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature because of course the stove just has Low to High. And it got too hot too fast. Like over 400 and it was supposed to be 365. And it was smoking and crackling and my eyes were burning and we were opening the kitchen door to air things out and trying to cool down the oil and I was googling "How to prevent a grease fire" and reading things like "If it's smoking, it's nearing the flash point … very dangerous!"

Finally it cooled and Nate was standing there with everything lined up: fish on a plate, batter in a bowl, oil in the pot. He was wearing long sleeves, an apron, and yellow gloves … and holding long tongs. I was standing nearby with a plate of paper towels for when he was done. It took forever and the batter fell off most of the fish. We did fry some chicken tenderloins and baby bella mushrooms too. It wasn't pretty but it tasted pretty good. Too much work, though. Probably won't do that again. :) We have been trying to do better (and have been) about eating out less this year and cooking at home to save money, but if we want fried fish, we can go out. :)

I think I'm like 87 days away from my due date … Baby Jones is moving around all the time. Nate looked at me the other day and said, "You look uncomfortable." I am a little. I'm not eight-months-pregnant huge, but I'm six-months-pregnant big. Sometimes it's hard to roll over in bed. Sometimes I do dishes and step back from the sink with a wet belly. There's still so much to do. I haven't quite started nesting. I think February will bring that out. Oh, boy! :)


the best calzones ever.

In an effort to save a little money on the food budget this year, I've been trying really hard to cook almost every night. The carryout got a little crazy when I was crazy sick in the first trimester, but now that I'm enjoying the end of the second trimester with all its energy and feeling-goodness, I made a list of some meals and a grocery list and got to it.

Last night, I made calzones. I found a recipe on Pioneer Woman, modified it a bit, and it was not only surprisingly easy, it was the most delicious calzone/pizza-style dinner I've ever made.

First, I heated up some EVOO in a pan on the stove and cooked up all the veggies—mushrooms (fresh, not canned or jarred), black olives, onions, bell peppers, and sliced fresh grape tomatoes. I added Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes and let it cook until everything was soft and smelled ah-mazing.

Meanwhile, I made the dough just with two packets of the 68-cent just-add-water Kroger pizza crust mix. I divided the dough in half (for two really big calzones) and rolled out the first half on an olive-oiled up baking sheet.

In a bowl, I mixed an Italian 5-cheese blend (by Kraft … it has parmesan, romano, provolone, mozarella, and asiago) with one egg and salt and pepper. Spoon out half of this mixture onto your dough (pile it on one side of the dough) and top with turkey pepperoni. Then I topped that with the cooked veggies, folded the dough over, curled up the edges, and used a fork to help seal the edges. Do that again with the second calzone.

Then I scrambled an egg with a bit of garlic salt and more Italian seasoning and brushed it over the dough. Bake at 400 for 8–12 minutes.

The Pioneer Woman serves hers with marinara sauce. I had pizza sauce, but didn't use it. I think it would be good with a little pizza sauce on the inside too. When you make them, the crust gets way bigger so don't be afraid to stuff them full of toppings.

The end result was so good. The egg brushed on top makes the crust nice and crispy. Nate didn't even finish all of his. He said, "I'm full." I threw my arms up in the air and shouted, "I DID IT!" (Filling up Nate is a difficult task!)
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