super easy oat bread

super easy oat bread

Here’s the thing no one tells you about change: it affects you, and in ways you might not plan for.

Every day, we’re surrounded by the details of our life, be they people or objects or geography, and, even when it’s by your own choice, when you start moving around a lot of those details—whether city, job, church, relationships, house, diet, marital status or say, all of those things—it can unexpectedly, out of nowhere, hit you hard.

Because when enough things around you begin to disappear, you may start to feel like you will, too.

nashville home

This, as you already know, is a post about how I moved last week. It’s the story of how I left an adorable house in East Nashville that I shared with three roommates, a house I only moved into in February and had barely settled into, packed up all of my Tennessee belongings (there aren’t many) and together with Tim and one of our good friends, moved to another side of town.

nashville bookshelves

This new house is nice. It has built-in bookshelves and hardwood floors. It has air-conditioning and a washer/dryer set. It’s the first place where I’ve ever signed a lease and the first rental to earn me my very own library card. More than anything, this house has the distinct privilege of being the first house we’ll live in, me and Tim—the initial place we’ll call home together.

nashville hallway

And, like everything else in my life over the last six months, this house is new. It’s something I don’t know very well. It’s something that will take time to feel familiar.

It’s change.

nashville

There are so many things I love about Nashville: the great food (Marche, Margot, City House, Silly Goose, Burger Up, Baja Burrito, Mas Tacos), the great coffee shops (new favorite: Edgehill Cafe), the rolling hills south of the city, the beautiful cliffs to the east. I love that it hardly snows. I love that it will be warm in November. I love, most obviously, Tim.

nashville home, right side of fireplace

But every now and then, I’ll be driving down a street and wish I saw a Dominick’s on the corner (who says that?). I’ll meet someone for the first time and wish they already knew my name. I’ll see the regular reminders that I’m still new here in my Illinois driver’s license or matching license plate. And sometimes, amidst missing some old details and observing the new, I’ll wonder if I’m not gone, too.

nashville home, through the window

it’s the kind of thing that has me asking, What is it that makes us who we are anyway? Is it our income? Our house? Our family and friends? Do our jobs define us? Our life’s work? Our relationships? Our connections? Our family?

I think I am learning that really, anything that can change isn’t what makes us—not our age or our savings accounts or our things or our hobbies. Not our spouse. Not our friends. What makes us who we are is something deeper than all of those things—something that remains even when all our life details change and however many times they change.

Our identity may often get lost in the details around us, and because of that, it is a sort of gift to lose those details, so at least in the midst of it, you see your soul—that eternal, imperishable part of us that knows it’s made for something more than this life. That’s who I really am, in Illinois or in Nashville. That’s who you really are, too.

Living in my new house, living in the next.

nashville home, view of garage

They took away what should have been my eyes,
(But I remembered Milton’s Paradise)
They took away what should have been my ears,
(Beethoven came and wiped away my tears)
They took away what should have been my tongue,
(But I had talked with God when I was young)
He would not let them take away my soul,
Possessing that, I still possess the whole.

– Helen Keller

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Almond Thumbprint Cookies (no flour!)

almond thumbprint cookies

Nothing says simplicity like reducing your diet to fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy for a week—which is exactly what we did recently, when we temporarily cut out grains and sugar from our daily meals (even the good kinds).

In the beginning, I felt hungry, but by the end, I felt fantastic.

And today, whenever I eat something sweet, I start craving a vegetable.

I see that as a very good thing.

mixing ingredients

So last Saturday, it was in the midst of this experiment that we were planning a movie (Super 8!)/dinner (Silly Goose!) date with good friends and wanted to bring something to snack on. If you’re also the type to sneak treats in at the movie theater, I’m sure you’ve been where we were: you want something easy to transport in your bag, easy to share, totally non-sticky, and totally appropriate with the jug of water you’ve also got shoved in your purse. So for us, this usually means cookies.

tasting the batter

The only problem last week was that meant a cookie without flour (or at least with only a little flour—come on, we were allowed to cheat a little), which reminded me of some adorable little thumbprint cookies I’d seen at Nourishing Gourmet and marked on my Pinterest last month.

forming cookies

Reminiscent of kolachkys but made with ground almonds (or almond meal) rather than flour, these little desserts look like baby danishes and smell like bakery doughnuts, featuring dollops of fruit preserves right in the center.

balls of dough with jelly

(Speaking of fruit preserves: If you’re looking for a good jelly, whether for peanut butter sandwiches or baking almond thumbprint cookies or something else, let me give a shout-out to Trader Joe’s, who makes an excellent organic jelly sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar. We picked raspberry. It is excellent.)

lots of cookies

We made a batch Friday and it was almost gone by the next day, so we made a second batch Saturday, that time subbing whole-grain spelt flour for part of the ground almonds when we ran out.

finished cookies

Both times, these little cookies were just what we were after: small, sweet, and, best of all, so simple: simple ingredients, simple baking process, simple enjoyment—whether in the movie, at coffee or grabbed off the counter in the kitchen.

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