Cara Box Exchange: Reveal & Link Up

I am so excited to share about my experience with the Cara Box Exchange.  If you want to know more about the Cara Box Exchange, click on the button at the bottom of my post.  This box’s theme was “Fall”. You were supposed to get to know your partner and fill a box with a bunch of items that centered around everything they love about this season.

My two amazing partners were Charlene & Linda.

Linda is an incredible person with this infectious energy that you can completely sense in the way she writes.   I could hear her gabbing to me over the phone like old girlfriends in each email she’d send me.  She lives in Missouri, which was crazy to find out since Chase and I just moved from there!  I loved getting to know her and creating a Fall themed box for her centered around keeping warm this season. I love Linda’s positivity and willingness to let life take her wherever it will.  She has a fun filled marriage  with her husband Kody, and together I know they are going to accomplish big things!  It was amazing how close we were able to get and share some really neat things together.  If you want to “meet” her and see what I sent her, go check out her blog.

Charlene was paired to send me a box and I really enjoyed getting to know her as well.  Ironically she is from the south – a Georgia girl – and understands what it feels like to move far away from family to support her husband in school.  They are such a sweet couple and started dating in high school (just like me and Chase!).  I can’t tell you how amazing it was to see all the similarities I had with these two girls unfold over time.  Charlene was really intentional in getting to know me and it showed in the box she sent.  I got my Cara Box on a Friday night as I was arriving home from work.  It was such a blessing to have a pick-me up as I was thinking about how many more weekends alone I had before Chase returned.  I am so thankful for the friendship I have with Charlene and the sweet box she put together for me.

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She knows how much I love to cook, so the fall themed pot holders and dish towels are perfect for getting ready for Thanksgiving.  The pumpkin candles are so nice for filling up my house with a yummy scent, and the cute cup is perfect for a post run smoothie!  I love the nail polish she chose for me – very neutral and goes with anything.   I love the scarf and have warn it several times as the weather is definitely getting cold.

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 Probably one of my favorite things of the box are the leopard print house shoes she sent me!  They are SO cozy and warm!  I love slipping them on after I wake up on weekends.  I pretty much don’t take them off until it is time to go to bed on Sunday!

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(plus they go perfectly with my warmest jammies!)

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I really loved participating in the Cara Box Exchange and definitely suggest it for anyone (blogger or not!)

Cara Box

Sandy – One Year Later

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A year ago today Chase and I were taking my parents to the airport and the whole eastern coast anxiously held their breath and waited for Sandy to arrive. You can read about our experience HERE. Today I found the few facebook updates I managed to post during our time without power and it humbles me.

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We never thought we’d lose power for multiple days, and honestly we were exceptionally fortunate compared to most.  We lost nothing other than the perishable items in our refrigerator and freezer.  A minor loss compared to those who lost everything.

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Everything.

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We were cold and had no power, but it could have been much worse.

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I’ve overheard several stories this week as people reflect on what we all went through just a year ago.  How quickly we can erase those cold nights from our memory as we enjoy the heat that readily keeps us warm at work.  Today I’m thankful.  I’m very thankful.

Lentil Soup to Keep You Warm

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I know – this is not the most beautiful picture.  But is there such a thing as “beautiful lentil soup?” Probably not.  Anyway, this soup was absolutely necessary this weekend.  Now that it is fall soup is on the menu atleast once a week in our house. Plus, the heat in our building hasn’t been turned yet making the chilly days even chillier evenings.  Lentil soup is filling, comforting, and soooo warm and tasty.  Exactly what I needed.  My favorite part is the cilantro and parsley added at the very end.  These are not just pretty garnishes – no, the flavor of each herb combines with the sweet squash and carrot to create a beautiful taste.  I tried it without cilantro and parsley and immediately had to add salt for extra flavor.  So, take it from me – add the cilantro and parsley.

I hope this soup keeps you warm and fills your belly.  Happy Fall Y’all!

Lentil Soup to Keep You Warm
Makes 4 (generous) Servings

Ingredients
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 stick celery, small dice
2 medium carrots, small dice
1 14-ounce can italian seasoned diced tomatoes
1 cup hot water
1 heaped cup green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 small butternut squash, small dice
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
2-3 Tbsp. cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.Stir in the tomatoes and juice from the can, add a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly.

Add the water, lentils, paprika, bay leaves, soy sauce, and squash.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 25 to 30 minutes until the lentils and vegetables are tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in the parsley and cilantro and serve with your favorite homemade bread.