+[exhale and a few food ideas]+

Today the Astrud Gilberto station plays on my Pandora.  Geniusly mixed with tunes like La Mer sung by Chantal Chamberland or Eric Reed on Prelude in E Minor, Astrud transports me.  "Beach Big Band" as I like to refer to it.  Its what one would expect to hear at an open air Palm Springs wedding as the celebratory evening wound down.

Today I pulled out those orange palazzo pants that havent seen the sun since our trip to Santa Fe in September.  Paired with matching orange patent Tory Revas, a chocolate silk tunic tank and a long wrap sweater the color of sand, Im warm enough on this sunny, beautiful 45 degree mountain day.

A rectangular 1x2 inch turquoise pendant hangs a couple of inches beneath my collar bone.  A remnant from my Ralph Lauren days, Ive recently begun wearing it daily ornamenting a rugged piece of chocolate suede.  My daughter calls it my signature piece, says it "silently defines my personal style".  I have no idea what she means or why a 13 year old would even notice such.    I will say though that it somehow goes with everything in my closet. 

Sabbath.  Oh thank God for Sabbath.

My best friend takes Sabbath on Thursdays.  Yesterday, as we talked mid afternoon, she confessed she had given her typically "set aside" day away to yet one more voice demanding her time and full attention.  She was regretting it deeply.  Understanding wholly, I listened shaking my head.  This morning when I awoke I realized it was about to happen to me as well.  A party for 15 thirteen year olds at our house tonight and a Saturday filled with date morning with Doug then an afternoon with a dear friend in Denver, then a Sunday of peaceful protest at the March for Life looks to leave me little alone time before Monday begins again.    I promptly cancelled the appointment which had somehow made its way into my Sabbath, the appointment which would inevitably take up 3/4 or more of my day.   Appointments can be rescheduled without much effect.  Sabbath, for me, can not.   Thankfully,  Taralyn reminded me of that yesterday.

I love to vacate my life on Sabbath.  Abrogating all things school related and heading out into the big world, I aspire weekly to drink in the pleasures of being alive.  Today those pleasures have included a winter picnic alone with giant cerignola olives stuffed with salty feta, a sourdough demi baguette to mop up the pool of seasoned olive oil in which the olives once swam, a few tablespoons of Sonoma chicken salad and a grapefruit Izze.  Seaside feelings flooded me as I sat baking in the winters sun, acquiring what feels like a sunburnt nose!    Fridays are my day to enjoy foods I love, enjoy activities which are life giving to me and to read, write, pray and dream all alone.    In other words, Fridays are the day that I do what I would normally do on vacation but find little time or margin to enjoy in my daily life (and some years even on vacation!).  Fridays put the life back in me, fill me up so that I can once again pour out.  They overall remind me of who and what I am.  Without Sabbath Fridays I become brittle in most every regard.  With them, I am lithe.  I believe that is the Design.

Many of you know all about my Sabbath, but weekly I get questions about it - the whys and hows of it.  So I thought I would share another slice of it today.    Im also getting lots of "new year" questions on food lately:  what are we eating these days,  am I still GFSF and the like.   I thought I would share a few of our lunch "wraps" to perhaps inspire something new in your home.  And yes, with the exception of special occasions, dinners with others (because I cant determine their menu) and my Sabbath Fridays, I am still GFSF.  I just feel much better sticking to that plan, so I do.

When I took 99% of the bread out of our meals (15 months ago), I needed a replacement in many of our meals.  Lettuce was an answer in more cases than I ever imagined!  Fajitas, sandwiches and tacos became lettuce wraps (instead of using tortillas or bread), along with hamburgers.  A very easy switch and one that we have enjoyed, here are a few of the quick "lettuce wrapped lunches" we enjoy constantly.

Simply fill a leaf of your favorite lettuce with the following...

hummus with sprouts and tomato

lemon and garlic quinoa salad

leftover grilled chicken, avocado and creamy jalapeno ranch dressing (recipe below)

turkey and havarti with pesto mayo

thai steak and soba noodles

shredded chicken with corn and salsa

smoked turkey slices with cucumber and creamy jalapeno ranch dressing (recipe below)

chicken tikka masala leftovers with/without brown basmati rice and raita

sliced steak leftovers with sesame noodles

avocado, cheese, cucumber and sprouts with creamy jalapeno ranch dressing (recipe below)

shrimp, cilantro, lime, avocado, garlic and tomato mixed to your liking

carnitas, cilantro and chopped red onion

So, yes, the girls and I eat creamy jalapeno ranch dressing on everything.    Its not Dougs thing.  Anyway,  I got the inspiration for it from a fav Mexican restaurant in Texas.  You can adjust the temp with how much jalapeno you put in.  I typically use 1/2 of the pepper, especially if I am serving it to anyone outside my immediate family.    The girls eat bowls (plural) of this with just tortilla chips.  Its shameful how much of this we eat.

Throw all in the blender and blend until fully incorporated.  Will keep for 2 weeks in the frig, if it lasts that long.  Ours doesnt.

(makes about 2 1/2 cups of dressing)

1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch buttermilk dressing mix (with salad dressings at grocery store)
1 cup mayo
1 cup buttermilk
1 small bunch cilantro, large stems removed (about 1/2 cup chopped)
2 large or 4 small tomatillos (you can can also use canned tomatillos)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/2 -1 whole jalapeno pepper

Chill for an hour or two then serve.  Or dont chill if your children (or you) cant wait.