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Monday, September 27, 2010

Sometimes.

Sometimes it's just nice to take time being a wife.
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To pry the notecards and calendar from my hands for a few hours and catch up on other important tasks.
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Like folding laundry... and not being in a hurry to do so.
Feeling the warmth as the clothes come out of the dryer and breathing in the fresh scent.
I believe these little moments can be opportunities to pause and worship. To ask the Lord to help you look beyond the mundane and rejoice in the privilege it is to serve someone else.
He did that for me today.
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Sometimes it's just nice to be home preparing dinner when this smiling face walks through the door.
I love his happy eyes.
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To take time to set the table.
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To cook real food.
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And to spend a while enjoying it.
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With your very favorite company.
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It's not the norm around here, that's for sure.
But tonight was a balm for my soul.
A break from the high speed chaos that has been my life in recent days.
I think because it isn't the norm it's even more of a gift when it does come around.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Raw apple pie granola.

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This "recipe" has quickly become one of our favorites for breakfast. It's raw, so you get all the benefits of uncooked and unprocessed food, but it's also delicious. It tastes just like Fall, in my opinion. It's the perfect combination of tart and sweet, without any sugar (or dairy or gluten - yay!). Ok, enough said. Onto the recipe...

Ingredients (to make breakfast for 2):
2 honeycrisp apples
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup pecans
1 teaspoon apple pie spice

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[ If you haven't tried a honeycrisp apple before, run to your nearest grocer... they are to die for. ]

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1. Roughly chop 2 honeycrisp apples, then pulse in a food processor until chopped to your preference. Divide chopped apples between two bowls.
2. Put 1 cup pecans and 1 cup pitted dates, along with 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice, in your food processor and turn on for about 30 seconds. It will become a doughy consistency when it's all blended.
3. Spoon "granola" on top of chopped apples and enjoy!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Etsy.


Inspired by my dear friend Kirra, I wanted to showcase a few of my current Etsy favorites. These are changing all the time, but maybe you'll find a new artist in here that you fall in love with...



Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jalapeño hummus.


I'm a little confused.

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The calendar tells me that today is the first official day of Fall, but I'm not convinced.

The high today is 96°F.
I just picked 20 juicy tomatoes from our garden.
It just feels like summer...

But still, the pumpkin spice candle is lit,
I'm back in school again,
and I've been eating soup every day despite the heat.
So it must be Fall after all.

Speaking of our garden, by the way, I haven't been posting about it much simply because I haven't been out there every morning like I used to. A couple months ago, I pushed back a tomato vine and saw a 3-foot-long black snake staring up at me. Since then, the garden has been a little less inviting. I'm sure you understand. :)

But a few days ago, I picked these gorgeous jalapeños.
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They. are. HOT. And so delicious.

I had a can of chickpeas on hand, so I decided to try making some jalapeño hummus. It's no secret I love yummy dips - especially ones that are allergy friendly - and this one was just perfect.

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The instructions are super easy:
Remove the seeds from the jalapeños and chop them coarsely, then put them in a food processor to chop them finely. I used 3 jalapeños in mine, and there was plenty of heat - but you may need more if you like it super hot.
Add a can of rinsed chickpeas into the food processor with the jalapeños. I also added about 2 teaspoons of cumin and some sea salt.
Turn your food processor on, and if you need to, add a little water if it's too thick.

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That's it!

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In my culinary opinion, jalapeño hummus works in every season.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A quick DIY and how we remembered 9/11.

So I know "DIY" and "how we remembered 9/11" don't really seem to go together, but just wait. They will.

First, the DIY: how to make a cute envelope.

I needed to make a birthday card for a friend the other day and wanted to put it in a cute, girly envelope, but didn't have one lying around. I wished for a second that I had an envelope template from Paper Source, but then realized I could probably just make one. And it worked!

Here's what I did:
1. Find an envelope that you like the shape and size of. Peel the edges apart so you have one flat sheet.
2. Place it on the back side of a piece of scrapbook paper (preferably 12x12").
3. Trace around the edges of the original envelope.
4. Cut out the scrapbook paper in the same shape.
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5. Fold the envelope in the same places the original envelope was folded. Start with the sides.
6. Fold the bottom up.
7. Glue the bottom with a glue stick.
8. Seal the bottom of the envelope and you're done!
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Easy enough, right?
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I then put together a little card with paper bunting by just cutting scraps of scrapbook paper and gluing them on. (Don't worry, the blue glue stick glue dried clear!) You could also sew through the tops, once glued, to make it even cuter. Also, don't forget to snip the edges so they lie flush with the edge of the card.
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So once I made this little stationery, I thought of using a map. This time, though, I used the same basic instructions but wanted to put the map inside the envelope to create a cute lining.

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Super, super easy. All I did was trace the normal envelope (with the flap open), then cut the map, then trimmed the map just a bit shorter on the bottom, placed some glue on the back, and sealed it in.

So back to 9/11. As I was making this envelope a few days before September 11th, I tried to think of who I could send a map envelope to. Who is living on the other side of the world? A soldier came to mind. Now, I've never had anyone close to me who's been off at war (at least while I've been alive), so I really can't imagine what it would be like. But I know if I did, I'd send them lots of letters in map envelopes. I'd tell them how thankful I am for their hard work protecting my freedom. I'd send them things that they loved and missed from hope to give them hope and encouragement.

So that's what I did... except first I went to anysoldier.com to find a soldier to send this little token of my appreciation. This is a pretty amazing site. You can look through emails from soldiers stationed all over the world and read updates on what they're doing and little things they miss from home.

I found an avionics troop in Afghanistan who caught my eye and I read a little list of things they'd love: coffee, gum, toothpaste, drink mixes (water gets boring after so long), hair gel, razors...

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So on September 11, I went to Walgreens and then the Dollar Store and stocked up, wrote a little thank you card, and shipped it off to Afghanistan where I hope it will bring a smile to 13 men and 2 women who are working hard right now.

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I did this on September 11, but I know they would appreciate this any time of year! Hope this inspires you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

8 things.

1. My hubby is now a blogger! You can find his new blog A Page and a Pen. He's using this space to write down some prayers to the Lord and he has a way with words that is so beautiful. Go visit him! :)

2. You guys are wonderful. Yes, you. When I first started blogging, it just seemed like an added bonus that people were reading and enjoying it, but my main purpose was to document our lives so that one day we could look back and see God's hand in our story. That's still my purpose, but the fact that now hundreds of you read this every day and send the most encouraging comments and emails my way is such a blessing. So thank you!

3. On that note, I'm not the greatest at returning comments, but if you want a response, please feel free to email me and I will definitely email you back! Please know that I read every comment, though, and it brightens my day. :)

4. I still have not done too much on our mantel, but LOVED your ideas! I'm using two of them... and will show you as soon as possible what we're planning to do!

5. I learned a lesson this week: Don't go picking jalapeños from your garden, chop them up for jalapeño hummus, then try to put your contacts in. Very bad terrible idea. Lots of tears will ensue, and you'll end up having to wear your glasses to class.

6. I learned another lesson this week: Don't give your blog a makeover if you, a. Do not have time to fix what you've messed up, and b. Don't really know what you want the final product to look like. Thanks for bearing with me as the blog is looking a little stark and impersonal right now. I promise it'll be better soon!

7. Speaking of blog design, a few of you have asked how I get those tabs at the top. It's super easy in Blogger. From the main Blogger dashboard, click on "edit posts" then on "edit pages" up at the top. The pages are the tabs. You can add up to 10 external pages and arrange them on the top like I have, or on the side of the page.

8. It's time for homework. Oh wait, it's always time for homework. That said, hope you've all had a wonderful, restful weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In case you hadn't heard, I have one of the best jobs out there. I teach about five painting classes per week to groups ranging from twenty people to seventy people. I get to spend time with [lots of] people night after night, sharing my passion for art and trying to make them loosen up and enjoy the process. It's exhilarating, challenging, fulfilling, inspiring.

At the same time, standing on a stage in front of seventy complete strangers can feel pretty vulnerable. Here I am with no art degree (a nightly question) teaching seventy people to paint their own masterpieces. The dynamics of every class are a little different, and they can range from the silent type that hardly crack a smile to the boisterous (and somewhat tipsy) crowd that I lose my voice shouting over.

Then there's the fact that I can hear what they're saying from almost any corner of the room from my spot on the stage. And it's usually never meant for me to hear. A student makes a sloppy stroke and I hear, "She wasn't clear enough." A less than wonderful painting at the end of the night is usually my fault. I realize that, for the most part, these students are casting their own insecurities in the most convenient place: me. But sometimes, it still hurts.

The other night in particular, there were a few especially rude people in the class. At least every 30 seconds, I fielded questions in the most acerbic tone:
"What brush were we supposed to use?"
"Could you please slow down?"
"I can't hear you!"
It got really old really quick (even for my assistants), and honestly, I felt my face heating up and my heart rate quickening. I was frustrated. Angry, even. Instead of asking the Lord to help me in that moment, I continued in my own strength, faking a kind response that they probably didn't even think twice about. But even though I seemed patient, my heart was ugly.

By the time 3 hours of this had passed and the class finished, I was emotionally and mentally exhausted. Not only had I repeated the same steps at least 4 times each throughout the night, but I'd faked a good attitude. I was disappointed in myself and just worn out.

On my way home that night, I sat in silence in my car and knew something had to change. I asked the Lord to forgive me for my attitude and help me somehow. I didn't really know what else to pray, so I left it at that.

His response was clear: "Love must be sincere."

I hadn't even been reading from Romans 12 recently, but pieces of the familiar passage came to the front of my mind and wouldn't leave.

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse... Do not repay anyone evil for evil... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

And then, as if that wasn't enough, this came:

"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." - Romans 8:6

Ok, Lord, I am listening.

He gave me exactly what I needed, even though it probably wasn't what I wanted: conviction. Truth. Correction. His Word is pretty black-and-white if you ask me. Not a whole lot of gray area or confusion in "Love must be sincere." And let me tell you, there was nothing sincere about the way I'd "played nice" to cope with a less-than-loving class. It also quickly became clear to me that I was trying to control my mind, my heart, my actions, and that clearly did not work. I had run out of patience. I had run out of energy. My kindness was quickly depleted.

Why? Because none of those qualities ever came from me in the first place. There is nothing inherently good in me. I am a sinner saved by grace. I was even a slave to sin when God purchased me because of his mercy. And now whatever good is in me is solely from Him.

On that long, dark, quiet ride home, Jesus revived my soul. He reminded me that people will not necessarily be warm and encouraging, but He will use them to grow my patience and He will love them through me. What a freeing thought - that I cannot love them on my own, but Jesus can. Jesus does. He's the same Jesus who stood silent as insults were hurled at him. The same Jesus who had compassion on those who hated him and asks me to do the same. The same Jesus who lives and dwells and works in me if I only let him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just in case...

anyone's ever tempted to think my house looks perfect all the time...

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Uhh... yeah.
We've always said the state of our house reflects the state of our lives.
And this week has, obviously, been a little chaotic.

But with about 20 minutes of vigorous teamwork, it ended up looking like this...
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A clean kitchen is just bliss, isn't it?

Monday, September 13, 2010

No more moping.

Last week I was handed some good news and some bad news. I had suspected for quite some time that I was allergic to more than just gluten. I was right.

In fact, out of 394 foods I was tested for, I ended up being allergic to 19 including all dairy, soy, garlic, tomatoes, egg whites, shrimp... oh, just everything I was used to eating. While some of these foods will just have to stay out of my diet for 3 months (then we'll re-test them), several others have gotten the boot permanently.
Goodbye cheese...
Goodbye yeast...
I loved you, but you didn't love me back.

This weekend I found myself in the same rut I'd been in several months ago when first discovering my gluten allergy. To be honest, I was moping. Feeling sorry for myself. Hungry. Jealous of my friends (and husband) who could enjoy a slice of pizza or a bagel slathered in cream cheese without even thinking about it. I'd be the girl who just ordered an apple and water for breakfast because it was the only choice.

On Saturday, I roamed the aisles of Whole Foods and studied nutrition labels on every box I picked up, always disappointed when I couldn't find a single thing to put in my cart (other than basic produce, of course). I came home with a few items, but spent most of the weekend moping during meal times, asking Shawn if I could just smell what he was eating (and always being turned down). :)

But on Sunday afternoon, I consciously turned a corner. I thought to myself, "If I'm allergic to 19 foods, that means there were 375 foods I was tested for that I was not allergic to." And I set out to find them to create a yummy, healthy, satisfying allergy-free dinner for us.

The menu: Oven-roasted salmon on a bed of spring mix with goat cheese (I'm still allowed to have that!), sauteed pumpkin seeds, avocado, and a lemon-oil dressing.
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We were two tired, but happy, campers.
This one played hard in his first soccer game of the season. I was so proud.
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This one stopped moping.
Proud of her, too.
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We watched the sun set and felt the air cool and savored each bite, dwelling on God's goodness poured out lavishly on us.

Even though you may read this post and think, "Gosh, I'm glad that doesn't apply to me," I think there's something in this story for all of us. We are all prone to covet, whether it be someone else's bagel or someone else's home. We are all prone to be dissatisfied with what we've been given. It is so easy to forget the thousands of blessings we have been given and chase after the few that God has withheld. Perhaps He's withheld them for a reason. Perhaps they'll hurt us. Whatever the case, one thing I've learned is that gratitude kills discontentment faster than anything. Oh, and gratitude is a choice... a choice that brings true freedom.

"For godliness with contentment is great gain." - 1 Timothy 6:6

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Technology.

There are reasons to love it.
And reasons to hate it.

But this weekend we really loved it because we had a mini family reunion courtesy of Skype! (I'm new to Skype even though I know this is old news.) :)

See?

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There's Mama in Germany (Papa joined her later).
And Erik & Shans in Washington state.
And us in Tennessee!

Then Papa got in from a bike ride and joined the conversation.
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And even gave us a little peek of the German countryside as the sun was setting...
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It made us even more impatient to see less "pixely" versions of all of you someday soon.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Decorating help?

This week, I gave our living room a mini makeover. It happened over time, really - I sold a couple pieces on Craigslist and bought a couple other things to replace them. I decided I wanted a mantel a long time ago, even though we have no fireplace (and no prospect of one) because I love the feeling of "home" it gives to a room. I found this one on Craigslist for $50 and had a couple kind neighbors and friends work on it and install it.

Here's the before:
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{I sold the coffee table and the TV cabinet and added curtains and switched the couches around.}

And here's the now:
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I love that the TV is no longer the focal point of the room (it's going to find a home in another room).
I love that I'll be able to change out the decor for each season if I want to... hanging stockings from the mantel, maybe a Fall wreath...

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But here's the dilemma - what do I do underneath where the fireplace is supposed to go?
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I really love Ashley Ann's idea that she did in her home, and I may go with that.
But does anyone have any other ideas?
I'm all ears!

Shawn's wife.

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[I've learned]
... to dribble a soccer ball
... to enjoy a good long LOST marathon
... to cook wienerschnitzel and say "Faustian sie deutsch?"
... to savor good coffee and sunshine
... the closer my walk with the Lord, the smoother and more fulfilling my marriage is.

[I've been surprised by]
... his passion for the Word
... his unbelievable support of me on every front (it puts me to shame)
... his affinity for backrubs and chewing gum
... his patience in thrift stores
... his wisdom.

[I've experienced]
... dressy dinner dates over overpriced sushi and meaningful conversation
... disappointment in my own pride and selfishness
... the security of walking with my hand in his
... more grace than I deserve.

[I wouldn't trade]
... this past year and nine months as Shawn's wife for anything.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Hope you've been celebrating the end of summer like we have....
With a jazz festival,
snow cones,
and lots of love.
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Happy holiday weekend! :)