Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Years Resolution Worth Making

One of the things that should be making your resolution list, if you are a follower of Christ's, is to have a consistent quiet time.  It's not as hard as you may think to have some consistency in your daily walk with God.  I know that it is hard for me when I don't like having a schedule.  But when something is important I've realized I'm willing to make time for it.  And nothing is worth more than making time for God.

An easy way to ease into quiet times, if you aren't used to them is a Navigator old school tip called "7 minutes with God".  7 minutes broken down into 30 seconds of praying that God would prepare your heart, 4 minutes of reading and 2 1/2 minutes of praying back to God what you read or a simple prayer such as ACTS (Adoring God, Confessing sins, Thanksgiving and Supplication).

If you have trouble with a desire to be in the Word or applying the Word to your heart, I would simply recommend praying that to God.  It may seem weird at first to pray, "God, I don't desire your Word" but taking that step and admitting and praying about your lack of desire is one step actually closer to the Lord, not further.  It reminds me of the disciples when they prayed that Jesus would increase their faith (Luke 17:5) or when a boy's father prayed  "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).
Start reading in one of the Gospels, I recommend John or Luke.  Or start in Psalms.  Psalms is perfect for reading through, if you're interested because you can read by the date i.e. Psalm 1 on the 1st of the month and then the next month read Psalm 31 on the 1st day.  It's helpful for me to do this because then I can remember where I am at.  Read an entire chapter or read a verse.  It's not important how much you read, but it's more important to read until God speaks to you.  Sometimes I can get "stuck" on the first verse and that's ok too.  God wants to speak to you during your quiet time, so let Him.
Another thing I like to do when I read my bible is journal.  It helps me to process what I just read and pray without much interruption.  My mind tends to wander pretty badly, so I find that writing down my prayers helps me stay on task.  If I'm thinking my prayers quietly I tend to start thinking about my to-do list before too long.

So there you go, a new years resolution you should seriously consider.  I know I want to start my 2011 and end my 2011 with a more consistent time with God.  And remember, it's not about checking off a plan but more important to spend time with God.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

November 2010

With a few hours left on December 1st, I would like to remember November.

As I sat here, gathering my thoughts, I realized what a fun, blessed and full of 28 things done month November was.

Let me tell you... ahem,

Hubs and I traveled to visit some sweet friends.  The time in the midwest was full of surprises. Warm weather, a trader joe's opening, chinese pizza, ah-mazing scones, friendships that continue though distance and time separated us, beautiful fall leaves, Christmas trees, etc. etc.

I proceeded to develop my crocheting and sewing more in such fun new ways. #25 on the list.  I made mittens. I made clutches. Too much fun!!

Since Hubs and I had some down time in the midwest I was able to plan and shop for the menu for Thanksgiving week with my family.  Since I didn't have my trusty recipe books with me, I had to use the internet and two cooking magazines to get me through.  It was too much fun and shall I say I am doing well with #11 on my list?  Some of the tasty nubs included; pho (vietnamese chicken noodle soup- thanks Liz), chicken and black bean tortillas, two layered pumpkin cake (thanks alissa!!), and cham soup.

Now what is cham soup, you might be asking?

well, I will tell you.  Cham soup is the greatest mistake that ever happened to me.  All my recipes came from one desire... the desire to use up most of what my parents already had in their freezer and deep freeze. (The deep freeze is in the basement.  Basements are what midwesterners have to store all their overhaul of things... like children (Hubs and I slept in the basement) and food (the deep freeze)). I know you sweet Californians don't have basements so I thought I'd enlighten ya!

Back to cham soup.  There I was digging through the deep freeze looking for chicken broth which my mother promised we had.  I found it.  Took it up and started to thaw it. Hmmm.... looks interesting.  The dark meat was beginning to look weirdly dark and purple.  So I asked, "is this really chicken broth?" yup, my parents promised so I threw it in the le crueset (my dad has accumulated an almost entire set from ebay and garage sales. I love cooking at my parent's house!!) and proceeded to cut up the chicken and coat it in a mixture of corn starch and water and then dumped them in.  When I lifted the lid I noticed something... the dark pieces of meat where actually... ham like.  And so it was. The best mistake to ever happen to me.  Chicken noodle soup with just a smack of ham in it. (anyone?)

It was probably the best hearty soup we have ever had and I deemed it cham soup.  If you want more details on the recipe, let me know.

Then my family and I gathered and I always look forward to those moments.  I love to hear the giggles of the children and the either indepth or foolish bantering between my brothers. Most times a conversation contains both.  I love that my sisters (in-law) trade advice back and forth about babies, husbands, food and beauty.  I love that we play games and pretend to have energy after the children are asleep.  I love that from the first floor we can hear a sweet voice (2 yrs) singing "Go Tell it On the Mountain" and another (3 yrs) answer back, "Stop it!" and it's not mean.  It's just that the singing has gone on... and sleep must come.... eventually.

I love that my family trades books and websites, authors and stories as easily as others swap handshakes.  I love that Hubs fits in and has easily found his own place.

Time in the midwest was good.  I had a lot of poetic moments and memories flood my heart from time to time.  I love visiting places that remind me of my childhood.  I don't often get to visit the old town where I spent a lot of my childhood. I don't get to drive the fifteen minutes into town from where I grew up and I don't get to pass the sweet house, tucked back between two hills where my best friend lived.  I don't get to go there often and I know I'll be scolded because I should. I just should.

But time, money, travel and life passes me by and so when I get the chance to visit a place where I remember my childhood I quickly take a hold of it and squeeze all the juice of love, life and laughter out of it.

One of those places for me is Mattoon, IL.  That town has barely changed and my Grandparents home with it since my mama was a baby.  I love that I know my way around town.  That when I pull into the drive I can see, in my mind's eye, my brothers riding the tandem, one of them up in a tree and my cousin out in the lawn.  I love that the dolls my nieces play with are the same I did and before me, my mama.  I love that there is a little corner where my Grandaddy's grocery store used to stand.  I love that this town hangs yellow ribbons from their light poles with the names of those in the armed forces through downtown.  I love that when I ride through downtown I feel like Miss Bagelfest 1992 when she rode down that street on her parade float.  Well, I don't remember if there was a Miss Bagelfest but yes, there was a festival for bagels because Lender's Bagels was made there.  I love that my mama taught me to drive stick on the streets surrounded by corn a "block or two" from her home.  I love watching the school buses go by and hearing my Grandma talk about how when my mama used to ride those she was the first one picked up in the morning and the last one dropped off (because they lived on the edge of town) and my mama would always fall asleep and the bus driver would always have to wake her up.  I love that if you pull the kitchen door just so, you can see the names and heights of all the grandkids growing up through the years.  I do not like that I am the same height I was when I was 16. Why did I stop?  I love that the tile seems to be the same, the wallpaper and the furniture.  In my mind I can see my mama getting ready for all her dates, her wedding and bringing home her first born baby to this house....

I meant to tell you about November... but it seems November meant more to me than recipes and clutch patterns.  Oh I love that I sew and cook and that I am slowly learning to carry on traditions but I think I love more that what November gave to me was moments and memories like those above.

Words, although I tried, cannot do justice to what a wonderful and blessed month this was. I will always treasure November 2010.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the look of happiness

oh the sweetness of a nephew!
Can being an auntie get any better?

Monday, November 22, 2010


I've been trying new recipes but sometimes I forget to tell you about them... but I definitely wanted to share about these babies!!

Walnut Cupcake with Brown Sugar Frosting
adapted from Cooking Light magazine

1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c buttermilk
1/3 c plus 2 Tbsp walnuts, toasted, chopped, and divided

1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3 large eggs whites at room temperature
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c water
dash of salt

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees

2. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Increase speed to high; beat for 1 minute.

3. Combine flour and next three ingredients (through cinnamon), stirring well.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating until just combined.  Stir in 1/3 c walnuts.

4. Place 12 muffin cup liners in muffin cups; divide batter evenly among cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging.  (Cupcakes will look slightly pale.) Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

5. Place cream of tartar and egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form.  Combine brown sugar, water and salt in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.  Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 238 degrees.  Gradually pour hot sugar syrup into egg white mixture, beating until stiff peaks form.  Frost. Sprinkle with remaining nuts.


My sister-in-law Becca whipped the egg whites and made the frosting because my peaks never even made it to soft... I struggled with whipping them.
So she taught me how to make the most beautiful whipped frosting.  Aren't those peaks awesome?

Friday, November 19, 2010

these are a few of my....

Isn't the blogging world great? I mean, really great? You can surf people's blogs and most of the time meet genuinely wonderful people on the other side of your computer screen.

Well, today I stumbled upon this blog 320 Sycamore through first going to this blog Jones.  Click. Click. Click and suddenly your "sitting" in someone else's living room whilst wearing your pajamas and reading about their lives. I love blogs.

I think I love blogs so much because while I lived in Japan, it was a break to read and communicate with people in English.  Blogs made me laugh.  Blogs were a way to pass time and rainy days when I felt misunderstood or alone.

Anyway, I am a fan of blogs.  So I wanted to join the "party" of bloggers who are now posting...

and tell you a couple of my favorite things....

fall leaves, fall flavors, pumpkins, reds, oranges, the chilly air, jeans being worn, boots coming out of closets, football, again I say, football (in case you missed it)... I love everything related to fall!! 

(click here for photo credit)
I have traveled the world and found no coffee that compares to my beloved Java House.
Java House was my favorite job that I have had to date and leaving was not a smart decision. If I lived in Iowa City, I would beg Tara to hire me back. :D
If you live anywhere near Iowa City or are traveling through on i-80 let me know and I'll get you directions! Best. best. BEST coffee ever! 

One of my favorite things is my family's history and history in general.  I find history to be very interesting.  My friend said it the best when he commented that to think of people alive before our times is mind boggling. (my own paraphrase of what he said)
This picture is of my Grandma. I love to hear the stories of how she lived with a bunch of girls in Peoria, worked as a housekeeper for awhile and how she impressed my Grandpa with her farming skills.... or maybe it was how cute she looked in bib overalls.
I love that my Grandpa farmed before there were tractors or cars.  He was plowing fields by horse.
I love that my other Grandparents met in a grocery store and that she asked her mother for cookies, her mother refused and my Grandpa thought to himself, "If she were mine, she could have all the cookies she wanted."
I love that my Grandpa was in Japan during the signing of the peace treaty in World War 2.
I love that my parents met in pep band and that they walked the quad where my dad (illegally) picked a tulip for my mom.

I love my family's history. And hubs and I are trying to get more history from his side of the family. 

 Speaking of which, Hubs is absolutely, hands down, without a doubt one of my favorite things.
He makes me laugh and makes me smile.
He puts up with my crazy ideas and a 100 miles a minute talking.  He's just so much fun and I totally am in love with Hubs.
It's my personal quest to keep him entertained.
hmmm... was that in the vows?

A recent favorite would be birds.  I can't get enough about birds right now.  It kind of started with the verse about how God knows when a sparrow falls and how He cares for us more than that.
But then it's just become an obsession.  
I love birds!

And that, is a small but starter list to a few of my favorites!!
Go to 320 Sycamore and join in the fun!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


 A way for me to get daily exercise (#21 on my 28 things) is to set a goal.  
So when I found out there was a 5K in Normal the same time I was going to be there,
I said hello to my new goal.
It was really fun training for it and having it before me.

the one thing I was not ready for was the cold. It was so cold and windy that day that I hardly knew what to do with myself.
I basically just dealt with it by wiping the snot on my sleeve and pressing forward. 

I finished in 31 minutes and 48 seconds.  Not a world record, not even close... but a time to start with and compare to all the future (Lord willing) races that I will be signing up for in the future.
I think I can do my next one under 30 minutes with more training and less wind! 
Midwesterners are awesome crazy people!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

full cup

I am feeling full at the moment.  Full of life and love and thankfulness.

I'm super thankful for my family.  I love that we kiss each other. Sometimes on the cheek, sometimes on the mouth.  I love when I hang out with my extended family and I hear stories of their lives and I think "that is so me. I am so like that person."  it makes me feel connected to them in some ways.  I love that I can be myself and be crazy and sing random songs and they let me.  I love that they get me.

I love that my home is not located so much in a place... but in people. I love that I can be in Iowa, snuggling with a snotty one year old and feel just like I do when I'm curled on my couch, talking with a good friend in California.  I love that my friends greet me with a smile and a huge hug... even when it's been years since we've hugged.

I'm thankful and totally worshipping God that there are fall leaves on the trees still.  Hmmm I caught the end of fall in the midwest.

I'm thankful for friends who are generous and offer to let my husband take the pillow that he was so enamored with.  There wasn't even a second thought of, "oh but what will we do without that pillow?".  I'm thankful for friends who fight to pay for the check and who share their lives with us, letting us sit around the dinner table and "shark pray" or eat pizza or tickle their sweet babies.  I'm thankful for every one of these babies for all my friends who I prayed for and with for these sweet babies.

I'm thankful for people who are genuinely interested in hearing about Japan and about our lives.  Who say, "Ohhhh Joanna... two years in language school....." and I smile and just laugh.  They know me.  They know that I am a people person and two years in a book would dry my heart up.  But I assure them, I'll meet neighbors.

I'm thankful for good coffee.
Good conversations.
Fireplace moments.
Cinnamon scones and the guy at the grocery store who helped me find cinnamon chips.

I'm thankful for a husband who drives across states and flies across the country and gobbles up tiramisu and is so gosh darn cute....

I'm thankful for so much.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

October 2010

October oh, October!
You were cold. You were rainy. You were everything a poor midwestern girl could hope for in California.  You even produced some red and orange leaves in a few trees along my drive.  I have loved you.

October was full of cooking successes and failures.
I experimented with the "Weeknights" book and was able to cook a couple times for friends.  I think I'm going to like the book. I just have to tackle the veal pages that I am not really looking forward to.
I had a major downer in the form of an apple cake.  How can apple cake be depressing? When it turns out to look like baby poop.  I was so sad by my cake I almost made another one.  But then I realized that was incredibly vain and wasteful.  So I served my ugly apple cake to my friends who were gracious eaters.
I also tackled a couple recipes out of a Cooking Light magazine I picked up at the grocery store.  Totally love this magazine.  I made a roasted chicken with pinot noir sauce, buttered green beans and mushrooms and rosemary roasted potatoes. Yum.
I also made a cooking light's recipe for banana bread for my fellow jury duty jurors. Yes, you read that right. I am that nerdy!
Mikey and I were able to take a Jamie Oliver's cooking class in Redondo Beach and that was probably one of the highlights of my month.
We went to this class as a wedding gift from my awesome siblings and we cooked four different dishes.
Jamie Oliver's big "revolution" is about "saving America's health" through education (about what is in our food) and making small changes that can really add up!
Along with the Jamie Oliver recipes we also learned cool tips like cutting an onion so you won't cry, cutting an avocado and avoiding the mess (good for people who like to make sushi) and how to hold a knife properly.
I loved the class. I had so much fun!!

I had a craft day with some friends where we worked on projects we had going including scrapbooking, felt flowers and satin flowers.  I may post a tutorial to some of the things we may but if you are too antsy to wait, go to jonesdesigncompany.com and there you have the source of all my crafty ideas recently. :)

I finished the fabulous book
The Nine Tailors by Ms. Dorothy L. Sayers and was again impressed with Lord Peter Wimsey's wit and intellect that eventually solved the crime.

I'm a bit Sayers obsessed recently, aren't I?
I might have to take a break.

I'm in the midst of reading another book which I will tell you all about when I finish.

What else can I tell you, my precious friends?
I think that is about it for crafts, reading and books.
Enjoy your November!

Monday, November 01, 2010

passing on

Recently, I have been working through the book, "Truefaced" written by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch.

This book is a light shining for all the weary wanderers who have no idea what God wants from them and their efforts have been exhausted.  How do we please God?  How do we draw near to Him? How do we hide ourselves deep in the refuge of His Presence while we are so overwhelmed by our sins and their persistent presence?

I began reading this book because my friend wanted to go through it and so I reluctantly decided it would be good.  I had no idea what to expect and was joking with another friend that I did not want the floodgates of my "issues" to come out as I was very comfortable with the dam holding me together.

My expectations going into the book were "someone digging deep into my life with no resolution except the kind, but sometimes unhelpful, words of 'Jesus loves you'."  I feel terrible that those words have become somewhat unhelpful in my life but as I continued reading I found a paragraph that rocked my heart.

The authors write, Many Christians know God loves us and wants to be with us, but we also believe our sin has put an impossible mass between God and us.  We understand that Jesus has made a way for us to one day be together in heaven, but right now- until we get better, do better or start to take things seriously- we believe we'll have to settle for rare moments of intimacy with him.  We know ourselves too well, and there is no way we're ever going to be able to keep from sinning.  We believe God loves us, but we also believe he's pretty disappointed with us.  We expect to see him someday, but for now we can only hope that some days we will feel his touch on our lives.  That's as good as it gets on this earth... or so we've come to believe. (pg. 65)

And it hit me.  Jesus is not standing on the other side of the mass.  The book goes on to explain that God doesn't stand on the other side of our sin waiting for us to get it together.  Instead, God stands next to us, with our sin in front of us wanting to work on our sin together.

I don't know about you but that takes a lot of pressure and guilt off my shoulders.

God is not expecting us to work on our sin, to finish our sin... God knows that is impossible.  We cannot manage our sin ourselves.  God wants us.... wants me to instead entrust my entire self with Him and work on my sin together.

God wants me to come out of hiding and embrace His forgiveness and love.  The book of Jeremiah says we were created to cling.  To be dependent.  We were created to depend on Jesus, not to live this life alone.

Aren't you tired of trying to fix yourself on your own?  I know I am.  I'm no good at managing my sin and being a better person.  I've got to get back to my roots... I was created to be dependent.

I hope this is encouraging to you. I really just wanted to pass on the good news that was given to me.  God truly does not stand condemning us.  At the time we come to recognize Him as Lord and every day, every moment thereafter! 

Be encouraged my beloved friends.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

horribly belated (12)

I'm a terrible blogger. How many times have I promised you, my sweet reader, of my devotion to writing faithfully when I turn around and forget to follow-through for some time.
Please forgive me.

To show you my sincerity I will now be posting two recipes from the "Weeknight" book I've been cooking out of.

herbed pork chops with apples
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried rosemary
salt and freshly ground pepper
4- bone-in center-cut pork loin chops (about 1" thick)
2 tart apples such as granny smith, cored and cut crosswise into slices about 1/2" thick
1 T canola oil

1. Season the pork chops
In a small bowl, stir together the sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Season the pork chops on both sides with the herb mixture, patting it firmly into the meat.  Place the chops on a large platter in a single layer and let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to overnight.

2. Cook the pork
Preheat your broiler. when ready to cook, place the chops on a rimmed baking sheet and place under broiler. Cook, turning once or twice, until browned on the outside and barely pink inside, 8-12 minutes total.

3. Cook the apples
When the chops are about half done, brush the apple slices with the oil and place them around the pork on the baking sheet.  Cook, turning once or twice, until lightly browned and tender, 4-6 minutes total.  Cut the apple slives in half, and serve alongside the chops.

Lemongrass chicken and asparagus (20 minutes start to finish)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper
2 T canola oil
3/4 c green (spring) onions
2 T ginger minced
1 stalk, bulb part only lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lb. asparagus trimmed and sliced diagonally
3/4 c chicken broth
2 T asian fish sauce
1/4 c peanuts chopped
steamed white rice for serving

1. Stirfry the chicken
Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper.  In a wok or frying pan over high heat, warm the oil.  add the chicken and stir fry until golden on the outside and opaque throughout, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.  Add the green onions and stir fry until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Add the ginger, lemongrass, and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds.  Add the asparagus and stir-fry just until tender-crisp, 2-3 minutes

2. Finish the dish
Add the broth and fish sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Return the chicken and any juices from the plate to the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 minute to heat through.  Sprinkle with the peanuts.  Spoon the rice onto individual plates, top with the chicken and asparagus, and serve.

Eat and Enjoy! Let me know if you try any of these recipes! You won't regret it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

you'll never need another recipe...

Hey-o Joanna's friends!

Jo has asked me to guest blog on here to share with you the recipe that I used for her birthday cake. I adapted this recipe from one that my mom had.

Pumpkin Cake
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 eggs
  • Chocolate chips (optional)
Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended. Bake mixture in a 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes.

I ended up doubling this recipe and just used the whole can of pumpkin, leaving out some of the oil.I made three layers in an 8x8 square pan. To the middle layer I added a cup of chocolate chips. Yum!

I used cream cheese frosting for this baby, Betty Crocker did the trick! I actually made homemade butter cream frosting initially, but I made it at my parents' house and had to drive 3 and a half hours back to Long Beach. When I got home the frosting had melted down the cake, so I quickly scraped it off and refrosted with cream cheese. Then I did the piping detail with chocolate frosting, also Betty Crocker and a round 9 nozzle.

Eat! Enjoy!

(note: you can enjoy more of Alissa's recipes and adventures over at her blog: click here)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

26. (1)

*Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.  
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the LORD God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.*
Psalm 73:23-26, 28

In my quest to complete 28 things for the year my hubs challenged me to reflect on 28 verses that have/are meaningful in my life.
I could ramble on about these verses (which I am only counting as one) and why they are so meaningful to me but I'll try to be quick.
v. 23 the promise of God being near to me
v. 24 the hope of being with God receiving us to Himself (a direct verse that speaks into a fear of mine)
v. 25-26 although the World distracts me and tells me otherwise the truth is that God is all I need. He is all I want to desire and I find that He sustains and strengthens me.
v.28 being close to God is the best thing for me and the reminder that God's good works in my life aren't meant to be a secret.

That's it in a nutshell for life verse numero uno! 
Do you have a verse you love?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

you. a man. and dinner.

I just saw this question on the Pioneer Woman's website...
"If you could have dinner with one man throughout the history of time, whom would it be?"

And my answer was...
I would without hesitation have dinner with Pawp (my mother’s grandfather). He died before I was born and I never got to meet him but the legacy and stories he has left behind leave me wishing I could have met him. He was full of love, humor and grace. He was employed as a railroad detective so I’m also really curious about his stories from those days.

But now, I'm curious to ask all of you... who would you have dinner with? You. One man and dinner. who would it be?

P.S. Pioneer Woman's original blog is here.

a promise

so do not fear for I am with you
do not be dismayed for I am your God
I will strengthen you
and help you
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Monday, October 04, 2010


 It's exciting... to be moving ahead in my list (if you're asking yourself what list, click here) and whilst I cannot reveal what my number 27 is on the list of things to do. I will tell you this... it's happening right now.
And no, Steven, I'm not pregnant.
Guess again.
Oh I am just giddy with giggles knowing that someone's day is being made brighter. But enough about 27.

Because I'm terribly indecesive I made Hubs choose the cookbook he thought I should work my way through.  I knew he would choose an asian cookbook but he actually didn't.  He picked this one...
 and when I asked why he go for the asian cookbooks he replied, "Well, we're going to be eating a lot of Japanese food soon enough."
And I concurred.
Soon enough we won't have as many traditional ingredients readily available to us and instead we'll have other fun adventures in cooking.
So for now, we go with the Williams and Sonoma "Weeknight" 40 meals.
And since I hope to get through 40 meals soon, we might even throw in an asian cookbook and share some of our secrets with you all.
So whew, cookbook decided.
And soon to be shared with you lovelies.

Speaking of lovely.... for my birthday I received this beautiful scarf from my brother, s-i-l (got that?) and their kiddos.  However, due to some unforseen emergencies it was used as a burp/barf cloth for my chubby cheeked nephew who's cheeks alone have won me over but then you add in his adorable thighs and I really cannot do anything but go coo coo for cocoa puffs.
And by cocoa puffs I mean my nephew.

 Anyway, with all that said, I did not mind my beautiful scarf being used as a burp/barf cloth.
"I'll just wash it," said I.
And wash it I did.  And hung it up to dry.

 And this is what I came home to.
Sorry if soap scum makes you sick.  Although I did recently scrub my tub, I was not prepared for the upchucking of my purple scarf.  Good thing I put it over the tub and not behind our bedroom door. Sheesh.  It seriously turned everything purple.

Does that make you sick? Sorry but I promise 95% of what you are looking at is purple dye.

I feel like I should be selling tickets for people to take Rorschach tests.
Look! An eight legged giraffee!
Sorry! Am I just taking it too far?

Let's go back and pretend like I didn't just bare my soul and open up the vulnerabilities of seeing someone's bathtub in macro. Just go to your happy place...

Now isn't that better?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

it's beginning to look a lot like....

fall around here.

I just can't help myself sometimes.  I love fall.

I found this cute little wreath on a blog my friend Michelle sent me.  It was super easy and so much fun (a huge mess but so much fun) to put together.  I did it in about an hour and a half and that's generous.  I'm really new to home crafting so I'm pretty slow with straight pins and hot glue.  But if you're an old pro you should give it a try.  It's too much fun to pass by.
Special thanks to those who gave me a Michaels gift card for my bday.  
This wreath was provided by your generosity. :)
Here's the post.  Send me a message or a picture if you decide to do one yourself!

Friday, October 01, 2010

September 2010

 This picture best sums up my amazing September.  Not only did we go to San Fran as the picture can testify but this whole month and all it's adventures is owed to one man.
Hubs pretty much put together an amazing month of fun and first time events for me and our friends.  He's such a stud! I love you hubs!

But wait! Before I tell you about the end of the month, let's start at the very beginning.
A very good place to start...
When you read you begin with ABC, when you sing you begin with...

Ahhhh... don't you think all of life should have music accompaniment?
Well, many things and many people happened this month.  We had multiple visitors enter through our doors and grace us with their company.  Hubs and I had such a sweet time juggling the beginning of a new school year (new year of ministry) with different lovely people popping in and out.

In between visitors from Japan I co-hosted a bridal shower for my beautiful friend Kristine.  It was so much fun to shower Kristine (ha ha ha) with love and gifts to prepare her for marriage.

I tried the above recipe for the first time~ Pioneer Woman's Red Velvet Cake and it was ah-mazing.

Along with cooking I also picked up my crochet hook and was determined to continue developing my crochet skills.  I joined an online community of knitters and crochets at ravelry.com and have already perused a lot of their free patterns.  I seriously want to make about ten thousand things right now.  *sigh* Alas, I must pick one project and stick with it until finished.
 Something new and fun this month was our membership to a CSA farm in north Long Beach.  CSA stands for community supported agriculture.  Mikey and I pay a small monthly fee and twice a month pick up our locally grown vegetables which have been, in a word, an adventure.  Have you ever eaten collard greens?  Well, I have. Have you ever had a fig?  Well, I have.
It's pretty crazy and you have to be adventurous because we are subjected to the land and whatever it yields.  I have squash falling out of my refrigerator shelves but it's been fun to get creative...

This month I was also able to finish a book.  It was early September that I finished "Murder Must Advertise" by my gal Dorothy L. Sayers but it was so much fun to have a fun read by the bedside. I seriously love Dorothy Sayers but I'll be honest. I usually have a dream about murder or death when I read her stuff before bed.  So I have to be careful how much I read.  It's odd really that that happens because she isn't gory or descriptive.  But I guess just reading about it makes my mind do funny things.  It's better than dreaming about Lord Peter Wimsey.  I have no idea how I'd explain that one to hubs.

And then, as it goes... after a bridal shower comes the actual wedding.
Kristine's wedding was elegantly simple and the most fun I've had in a long time.  She was so beautiful and I know you all hate me for posting such a blurry photo but I actually love this photo.
This "catching them in a private moment" picture because that's what it was and it was such an honor to be there as they tied the knot.
Her reception was a blast!
K & M I seriously love you both!

And... as September picked up speed the day after the wedding we picked up Jordan, Rochelle, Waveland and Cadence and the day after that we were celebrating the day of my birth. Crazy!
This is the birthday of firsts.
First time seeing my brother fly through the air.
First time I had a birthday party at the beach.
Dear Katie Farka, I used to be jealous of you.  You had a June birthday and we were always doing such fun and wonderful summery things for your birthday.
I had a September in north Wisconsin birthday and that could mean grey ugly days or cold and grey ugly days.
I was jealous of your beautiful June birthday and I'd like to say I'm sorry.
Love, Me
I did think of Katie and how 7 year old me would have jumped up and down to know that eventually I got my summer birthday at the beach. :)  I also got the hottest day in LA history.  113 degrees in downtown and high 90s at the beach.  It was wonderful because usually CA water is too frigid to go in but God gave me a hot day to actually enjoy swimming.

 After the beach outing, we came home and somehow Mikey convinced me that Waveland wanted to play "pin the tail on the donkey". So I believed him... and was blindfolded... and then led outdoors and into a car and driven around Long Beach.
Another first.  My first kidnapping.
Followed by another first.
My first surprise party ever!
I was so surprised and touched by all the beautiful people who were at my party and who lavished me with love and "knowing".
I felt so known at this party as the decorations were all crisp dark fall colors, the cake (oh. my. heavens. the cake) was an amazing concoction of pumpkin, chocolate and cream cheese frosting (made by one, Alissa Williams) and the presents specific to crafting supplies made my little love cup runneth over.  I seriously felt loved beyond all measures!
(pictures to be posted soon~ I promise)

And if that weren't enough firsts.... Mikey surprised me (and Waveland) with tickets to Disneyland!!!
My first time to Disneyland in a country where I can actually understand the language.

 Nothing is as cute as my sweet niece talking to Belle about her horse Phillipe or Ariel about getting fins.  I seriously melted watching her stand in awe of these beautiful princesses and knowing that as her aunt I get to tell her for the rest of her life how much more beautiful inside and out she is.
I love being an Aunt!
 Especially to sweet cheeks here.

And before I could blink or catch up on sleep it's October.

Monday, September 27, 2010


 Every so often a person gets the chance to reflect...
and to set goals.
For most people it happens on the first of the new year.
For me, the fresh start begins on September 27 since that was the day it all began for me.
This year I want to try something new.  I got the idea that as a twenty-eight year old I should challenge myself to do 28 things I wouldn't normally do or things I have been meaning to do but haven't gotten to yet.
I asked my family and hubs for ideas and what lies beneath is the beginning of a beautiful adventure.

 twenty.eight things to do 
(and the people who helped me come up with them)
1. write more letters and less emails
2. take a floral arrangement class
3. take a writing class (G & G I. inspired)
4. surf more frequently and finally stand up (Alaina's suggestion)
 5. Buy a drink/groceries for the person behind you in line (Rochelle)
6. Deep sea fish
7. Write a children's book
8. Go sailing
9. Go to another new country.
10. Visit a redwood forest
11. Try a new recipe each week (R & Becca)
12. Work your way through a favorite cookbook (to be decided later).
13. bring goodies/small gift (potted plant) to neighbors
14. go on more nature walks with family
15. get all dressed up in my very best, go out to eat in a fabulous restaurant (Grandma S.)
16. write an article for a magazine until I get published. (Dad)
17. Read "My Life in France" by Julia Childs 
18. take a cross country road trip
19. Climb a 14-er (Mt Whitney perhaps??) with family
20. finish reading and interacting with 'Modern Day Malcolms'
21. Find a way to get physical exercise that is fun every day
22. Go kayaking
23. Host more dinner parties
24. Get a tattoo
25. Develop my sewing and crocheting more
26. Write and memorize 28 verses that have been/are impactful in my life (Mikey)
27. Jordan's secret suggestion
28. Becca's secret suggestion

So there you have it. twenty.eight things to do while being a twenty-eight year old. I'll be including a link and posts along the way so that for those of you who are interested can follow to see if I actually accomplish my list.
It's been exciting for me to anticipate this year and to know that so many adventures await me. To push myself.
It's been good to also look back and see how I've adventured and been pushed.

I'll try not to get too sappy on you or even cry as I think about wonderfully blessed I've... sniff... been in life.  I have though.  Beautifully blessed.
I have a husband who not only allows me to be me but helps me to become even more of who I'm supposed to be. Who dreams my crazy dreams with me, who eats my crazy concotions called dinner and says, "I like it." when I do things like paint the bookshelf pacific blue.
I have parents who love and support me even in my wildest endeavors!
Who always have dreamed huge dreams for me and always will.
Who challenge me to remember my roots while living far from them
and who call me five days before my birthday and sing to me every day leading up to the actual day.

I have brothers who taught me to ride a bike, climb a tree and balance my budget.
These brothers married amazingly strong and impressive women who show me every day how to love God by serving your children and families.
Their children, my nieces and nephews, teach me to cultivate the child within my own heart and to never ever grow too old where I can no longer throw my head back and laugh.

 Blessed to have all my friends.
Friends who have seen me grow from childhood, through the awkward years and bounce my way through life.
Friends who have met me along this journey and keep my mailbox filled with love, encouragement and kookiness.
Friends who keep me up late at night.
Friends who kick their shoes off and dance with me.
Friends who teach me that God is always near and never as far as we think.

Thank you to everyone who has blessed me these twenty eight years.
It's been an honor to be your daughter, sister, wife, friend and playmate.
I couldn't have asked for anything else as a gift but the gift of my memory.