(Please hit the jump to recipe button above to head straight for the Vegan Vanilla Overnight Oats!)
Hey there, guys. Do you remember last week (after I spent a good long while talking about God), when I told you that today’s post was going to explore the subject of my guru? Well…yeah. Sorry, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen quite yet. It will–it most definitely will be a subject I’ll happily dig into–but right now I’m so hopelessly distracted by my most recent project that I decided to put it off for just a little bit longer. Mostly because Guru is a subject near and dear to my heart, and my fragmented mind will likely do the post an injustice. So instead, this week I’ll share one of my favorite and easiest recipes (I say that a lot, don’t I?): Vegan Vanilla Overnight Oats. That, and give you all a sneak peek into my latest (gargantuan) project…
Get Some Sleep
I was talking to Jordan last night, and it was late (by my standards), but I was still busily working away at the table. I need to stop taking on these enormous projects, I said with a sigh. A statement to which she readily and heartily agreed. Maybe only because it means we survive on the simplest and least time-consuming of meals, or because the house isn’t kept up to my neat and clean standards for the duration; quite possibly it’s the fact that I’m frequently caught staring off into the void, weaving words, and ignoring all else around me. Or perhaps mostly because I always (without fail) will need her help for some part of said project. But still, she agreed. And whatever the reason, she’s right.
But the thing is, how do I say no when God hands me a stellar idea? The answer is, I don’t. Instead I grumble a little bit to one of the girls, drag my fet a little bit more, and then I get some sleep. Right before I get to work and don’t stop until my mission has been accomplished.
So let me backtrack a little bit to refresh. After my grandmother passed away in February, my dad and stepmom assumed the task of cleaning out her house. It was a huge job, and they’ve only just finished it up now, three months later. As they worked their way from room to room, they discovered pictures–millions of pictures (okay, an exaggeration, but on some days it actually felt like this). Thoroughly overwhelmed, my dad asked if I’d be willing to help by sorting through them all. Of course I said yes, and Project Number 1 was born. But I’ve got this, because it’ll be fun…right?
Well, it was fun; a lot of fun, actually, even if at times I wondered if I’d ever come out on the other side. And while sorting through these many, many bins of photos, the idea struck me that it was absolutely and unequivocally necessary that I create a family album. All of these pictures I had never seen–that likely no one in the family had ever seen–needed to be appreciated, if only for their (family) historical value. So with Jordan’s help, I scanned, cropped, printed and cut. And then with Riley Mae’s help, I organized (into chronological order) over seven hundred pictures. This job was actually massively overwhelming, and I never could have done it without my girls’ help. But now that it’s done, I’m super grateful that I tackled it, and Project Number 2 is now complete.
And Project Number 3? It just might turn out to be the biggest of them all.
After my gramma passed, my family and I exchanged countless stories and memories of our time spent with this amazing woman. So, so many stories from just one short life. We laughed and we cried and we spent much time reminiscing and honoring this soul who touched so many. This soul who somehow possessed the special talent to make each person she met feel like they were the most important one in her life. A friend of mine, while witnessing all of this grandmother nostalgia, innocently suggested that I write a book sharing all of these (sometimes unbelievable) tales. My initial reaction was a No. Absolutely NOT. Having just recently finished writing a novel (while at the same time getting this blog and business up and running), I was in desperate need of things slowing down. Just a little bit. For just a little while. Please?
But the idea had been quietly planted and before I realized what was happening, some rogue part of my brain had already decided that this was a fabulous idea and must be done. And wouldn’t my family love it? And even if they didn’t, wouldn’t I? So I set about collecting memories from family and friends, and the excitement and gratitude of all was encouragement enough to keep on going. The project was still small and manageable; it would be easy enough to organize some emails and incorporate a few pictures. Really, it was no big deal. At this point.
Little did I realize that, in typical God-fashion, She had planted the seed small so that I would undertake the project. Because if I had known then what I know now? I might have protested just a little bit more.
And It Grew
I was busy collecting memories at the same time that I was busy going through the photos, and wisely decided to finish Project 1 (and 2) before tackling the third. But as I sorted, I discovered that those bins contained more than just photos. I came across page after page of timeless treasures: notebooks and letters and yellowed newspaper clippings. Slowly, little parts of my gramma’s journey were shown to me, and slowly her life came together. Every day it felt like I knew her more and more, and all I could think was that everyone should know her like this. So the project grew…and it grew…and it grew some more. Until a cute, fifty-page memorial has morphed into an almost two-hundred-page book. And I’m not even done yet.
Now The Gramma Book isn’t only a gramma book, but a Gramma AND Grampa book. And it isn’t only memories, but letters that my grandfather wrote home to his parents during WWII. And it’s not only letters, but report cards dating all the way back to first and second grade. It isn’t only report cards, but words of my gramma’s written in old journals after her fall (and the breaking of her hip) in Russian in the early ’90s, and the care she received. Plus pictures. Did I mention the pictures? Because there must be hundreds of them.
So last week it was finally time, and I dove in. Headfirst. In fact, I’m just coming up for air today, with this post. I started compiling, and formatting, and it was coming together quickly and easily–but at the same time, I was left to wonder how I was going to thread it all together. It’s definitely not my way to slap some words into a document, paste in some pictures, and call it a day. It had to be worthy of a person so worthy. And then there’s the small matter of having this compulsion to exceed expectations, a character trait that I now wholly blame on my grandmother. But what I really wanted to do was allow Gramma to wow others in the same way that Gramma had wowed me.
And once again, God quietly planted another small seed. I’m pretty sure it was in meditation that the spark first appeared. The thought that bubbled to the surface? You should write her life into a children’s book...
And just like that, there was my thread.
I don’t know if everyone will agree, but to me the idea seems perfect. Perfectly perfect. Because Gramma’s world was books. She was an educator through and through, a professor at URI who co-authored a book on teaching children how to read. She spoke all over the world and was an avid enthusiast of reading. Books, books, books.
But not only that, there was the story of Miss Rumphius (I wrote about that here), a children’s book that she had loved, mostly because she saw so much of her own life mirrored in the colorful pages. And if she liked a book that was similar to her life, how would she feel about one written exactly about her life? So all of a sudden, now the Memory Book wasn’t only a gift to her family and friends, but more importantly, a gift to Gramma herself.
Which, of course, quadruples the expectations; specifically, my own expectations for myself. Because sometimes Gramma is larger than life, and you wonder how one little lady could accomplish so many big things.
And so, that’s where I’ve been. Organizing, brainstorming, writing, scanning, transcribing. Writing, for me, is always this exhilarating and intoxicating adventure. Often, I have no idea what’s going to come out next or even where the words will lead me. But there’s always this one small problem: it’s this matter of living the rest of my life when one of these gigantic projects sweeps in. They are, literally, all I want to do. I could stay up all night (but I don’t) and I could dismiss all chores (but I don’t) and I could forgo all meals (but I definitely don’t). My brain is constantly whirring, constantly creating. I’m thoroughly energized, tapping directly into that Creative Source.
I Just Think…
But while I’d like to pretend that I’m superhuman, I’m not there yet. Because blog posts still need to be written, and meals still need to be made. Floors still need to be vacuumed, and family still needs my attention. And sleep? It still needs to be slept.
So, I just think that if God wants to keep on planting these fabulous ideas, She should also simultaneously give me that magic wand that I crave so much. With just a twitch of the wrist, the house could be kept in good order and meals served hot and delicious on the table. You know, with zero effort from me. But no matter how many times I ask, the answer is always no. So while I write, we eat oats. Lots of overnight oats. And hummus. Maybe I’ll share that one next week…if I can only find the time.
- 1½ cup rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons cacao powder optional
- 2 cups coconut milk (or any plant-based milk)
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Add the oats and chia seeds to a small bowl and stir well to combine. (Also add in the cacao powder at this point if a chocolate flavor is desired instead.)
2. Add in the almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and milk. Stir immediately or whisk until thoroughly mixed.
3. Cover securely and refrigerate overnight or for at least 3 hours.
4. Top with fresh fruit of choice.
I've switched to sweetening my Overnight Oats solely with dates now. I pit and cut small 5-6 Medjool dates and use them in place of the maple syrup!
Just one more thing before I leave, in case you missed Jordan’s post last week. If you’re on Instagram head on over to my or Jord’s page and enter for a chance to win one of her adorable aprons. Winner picked on Tuesday!!
Have a beautiful week, friends, see you next Monday…xoxo