Our little unexpected visitor.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This weekend has been a delight, especially because of some unexpected visitors we had.
On Saturday morning, I got a text from my dad asking if I could call him when I got a chance, but nothing urgent. When I called, he asked me if I might have one more spot open for sewing night, and when I said "sure," my sister (who lives in Ohio) got on the phone and said, "Can I come?" I. was. shocked. (My mom was shocked too... Dad and Kels had been scheming for a while about this surprise trip.)

So of course, she brought little Charis along and I couldn't help but take a million pictures of her. Because I love her. And because just when I thought she couldn't get any cuter, she showed up wearing overalls and a ponytail on top of her head.

And then just when she thought I couldn't get any cooler, I gave her a Ring Pop. She and that Ring Pop... buddies. Does that make me a good aunt or a bad aunt?
Oh, how I love her. I've become "that aunt" who can't help but plaster a million pictures of her niece all over the internet.

And I think my parents have become "those grandparents" who dote on every little thing she does.
She's got us all wrapped around her little finger.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

I woke up yesterday morning with a brilliant blogging idea (or so I thought).
It was going to be a quiet but productive day at home, working on homework, job applications, and sewing orders for Brighter Day, and I would capture pieces of it every hour or two with my camera.
What I didn't expect were the feelings that would come as I looked through these pictures at the end of the day.

I thought I'd see the beauty surrounding me.
I thought I'd be more thankful for the things I'm so blessed with.
And I did. Both of those things.

But more than that, I felt an overwhelming grief at how often I have taken this amazing place for granted. I've lived here for two years, and for most of that time, I've refused to be content. On so many days, being away from the city - the people, the diversity, the energy - felt so suffocating. I cried because I missed it so much, and I would have rather been anywhere but here. I complained about seeing goats and horses instead of people. I complained about driving 20+ minutes to get just about anywhere. I whined. A lot.

And even now, even as I write that, my eyes burn with tears.
How much have I missed?!

I told Shawn about my day when he got home (during that big time gap you see toward the end), and as soon as I did, I wept. Wept. I didn't know these feelings of remorse would be so powerful, but they came out at once and I couldn't contain it.

It hit me like a ton of bricks today... a year from now, I won't live in this little yellow house on acres of beautiful land.
I won't wake up to this kind of beauty.
I won't cook meals looking out at running water and galloping horses.
I won't run barefoot through dewy grass to pick tomatoes out of my garden.
I won't call this place home.
It's ironic that Franklin has been home for these past two years - and for most of my life - and yet it's just now feeling like home in the last few days and weeks.

Maybe you're reading and thinking, "You're being way too hard on yourself." But as hard as I've tried to point out the things I adore about living here on this blog (and there are many things that I do), my heart has not been content for so long. And I want that to change. We may not live here for much longer, who knows. But I can live differently for however long it is. So however much longer I live in this house, you can bet I'm going to soak it up. Every drop. I didn't know these silly pictures could make me want to do that, but they did. They really, really did. And I am thankful for the conviction they caused.

DIY: Bleach-dying fabric.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My fabric choices go through phases.

There was the "I love really bright orange and turquoise and pink and yellow" phase.
Then there was the "I only love grays and subtle polka dots" phase.
I'm not really sure what phase I'm in right now (other than loving mustard yellow), but I have piles of fabric just lying there in my craft room because I look at it and think, "What was I thinking when I ordered this?!" I must be really fickle.

Anyway, I decided to bleach some of it in hopes that I might like it a bit more. I combined two parts water with one part bleach and soaked the fabric for about 15 minutes before putting it through a normal wash/dry cycle. And I love the results. It's a subtle change, but instead of an overly bright fabric, it's now something that looks like I might have found it rifling through my grandmother's attic. A little softer. A little more beautiful. 

It may be hard to tell from the photos, but the top photos are the original fabric soaking in bleach, and the bottom right photo features the ruffle in the original fabric on top of the bleached fabric.

I'm confident in my bleaching skills now, and next time, I may let it soak a little longer to bleach out the color even more. I have a whooole pile of fabric just waiting for a change. It has no idea what's coming for it. :)

My favorite crock pot recipe.

Monday, January 23, 2012

This recipe just can't be beat.
It's nutritious, filling, so delicious - and takes about 10 minutes to prepare before simmering all day in the crock pot. There's nothing quite like walking in the door from a long day and smelling this waiting for you. Yum. I like to serve it with quinoa which only takes about 15 minutes to make.

I followed the original recipe almost exactly, except that I like using whole grain dijon mustard instead of the normal dijon mustard. But really either way, it tastes so good.

Find the recipe here.

Ten little Newby things.

Friday, January 20, 2012

1. I am totally planning on making these gluten-free lime shortbread cookies (above) this weekend. They just look too good.

2. Speaking of gluten-free, a lot of you have emailed me over the past couple of years to say, "Help! I just found out I have a gluten intolerance and have no idea where to start." I'm always happy to write you back and hopefully offer some of my advice that will help along the next rough patch until gluten-free becomes a way of life. Because I've been there. And it's no fun.

But in the future, I will probably just send you to this article by Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. Not because I don't want to answer your questions. But because this is the best advice of "How to Live Gluten Free" that I've read. It's full of practical advice and hope.

3. It's Friday. Which meant I observed my near-weekly "sit in my car, listen to NPR, and eat Chipotle" lunch date. I can't think of a better way to celebrate.

4. Conversation I heard on campus today...
Dude #1: "Hey y'all, are you coming to the prerelease party tonight?"
Dude #2: "No man, I've gotta record a demo."
Dude #3: "I wish. I've got a showcase on the Row."

Wow. That probably looks like a foreign language if you don't live in Nashville. Only in Music City.

5. I'm learning to love my crock pot and am using it at least a couple times a week lately. Yeah! I'll post one of my favorite new recipes next week.

6. I'm also learning to love my dehydrator (a Christmas present). My favorite is apple-cherry fruit leather. It's dangerous stuff... I could eat the entire tray in one sitting.

6. I'm going to try to convince Shawn to take me to this movie this weekend. I know the reviews aren't great, but it still looks so fun!

7. It always happens that I have my greatest creative ideas when I also have a million things to do on my to-do list. Does this happen to you, too?

8. I have 2 more weeks as a 25-year-old.

9. Seeing that I have an Etsy conversation in my email inbox is both exciting and frightening, all at once. Etsy sellers, do you feel that way?

10. Since I'm running out of things to say, I'll just let you know I'm linking to E Tells Tales (her "10 Little Ivie Things" is such a fun tradition).

Sewing Night #2: A really belated recap.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In anticipation of another sewing night next week, I thought I'd share photos of our last sewing night (because I've been meaning to for months). We had so much fun and, as always, I was so impressed with what these novice seamstresses created.

We had snacks.
We made pillows.
We had a special guest: my Grandma, who came from Ohio. She is the Grand Master of All Things Sewing and we learned from her.
We pricked our fingers with pins more than a few times.
We sewed later than planned because so many tedious rows of ruffles demanded it.
We had fun. And that made it a successful night, in my opinion.

Can't wait for next week's sewing night!
I love this every-other-month tradition we've got going.

I decided to live it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This quote struck me.
Especially the part that says, "... I decided to live it."
(It comes from a really intriguing love story, by the way.)

I quit Facebook a few days ago.

Have you ever deactivated Facebook before? It's kind of a hassle. Before you do, it shows you some photos of you with other people and says, "Austin is going to miss you... Sarah is going to miss you... Emily is going to miss you..." and pretty much begs you to stay. Little does Facebook know I haven't talked to those people in years (I changed the names, don't worry). And it made me think: Isn't it the weirdest thing how our culture has so rapidly become an online society? I'm not that old, and I can remember days that I didn't know what email or the internet was, and my life didn't feel lacking one bit. But today, if you're not on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, you name it... and you haven't updated it for a few days... well, you're really out of the loop.

I'm one of the worst offenders. Seriously. I love all these different outlets, and the opportunity to connect with people 24/7. I love that I can read the news on my iPhone before bed, see pictures people have taken all day long on Instagram, and can see pictures of people's weddings, babies, and everything in between whenever I want. But there's this unspoken pressure to keep up with it all. To be "in the know."

And that takes gobs of time.

Time spent staring at my phone or computer with so little to show for it (I mean, I've never really built a relationship on Facebook. Have you?). Time letting my heart become jealous by seeing what other people have and where they vacation and how they redecorated their living room. Time that I don't spend doing so many things I should be doing.

And for all of these reasons, it's enough for me to say "That's it" and pull the plug on Facebook. Because I know that the more I unplug and disconnect from online things, the more whole I feel. Kind of ironic, isn't it? (Especially coming from a girl who writes a blog, right?)

So really, this whole post isn't about Facebook at all. It definitely isn't a plea for you to quit along with me. It's about decisions toward wholeness, toward boundaries, toward having more time to focus on the people God has put in my life - and that can take on so many forms. For me, it's just starting with Facebook. Trust me, I loved Facebook. It's been a tough breakup so far. But what I think I'm going to love is the sheer time I get back, the having-to-actually-pick-up-the-phone-and-call someone to catch up, the face to face interaction.

Who knows - maybe in a different season, I'll be back.
But for now? It feels just right.

108 days.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The semester has begun and, with it, all of the inevitable syllabus shock.
This semester is different, though, because it's the last one (at least for this degree).
This means a lot of decisions are involved...
Where should I apply for my first nursing job?
What hospital?
What area of practice (I'll be doing my final internship in OB, but I'm still open to other possibilities)?
What should I highlight on my résumé?
And on... and on... and on.

The cap and gown have been ordered.
The countdown to graduation has begun: 108 days to go!

I can't wait for this next season... it's going to be FULL of transition, and I love that.
We'll have to wait and see how much I'll be around this blog in the next 108 days.
With all of the NCLEX prep questions, résumé writing, and 12-hour shifts, it may not be much.
But wow. I am thankful.
I'm going to be a nurse.

Spicy carrot & lentil soup.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I've been spending lots of time in the kitchen recently. It must be these chilly holiday weekends that make cooking and baking a lot more fun. One of my goals this year is to keep track of all our favorite recipes so that I can (finally) compile them into one pretty book so I don't have to try to remember where I found something the next time I want to make it.

This soup will make the cut. 

It's perfect for a winter day and has a bit of Mexican flavor to heat things up just a bit.
And it's not only gluten free but dairy free, too!

2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 sweet potato, diced
6 carrots, sliced
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric (optional)
1 tsp chili powder (or more, if you like spice)
1 cup red split lentils
5 cups gluten-free chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Fresh cilantro, to garnish

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potato and carrots and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spices and cook for an additional minute.

2. Stir in the lentils and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer, half-covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan, for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

3. Use an immersion blender (or food processor) and process the soup until thick and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro before serving.

(We recommend it with Trader Joe's corn chips and a honeycrisp apple!)

P.S. I heavily adapted this recipe from a book called "Wheat, Dairy, & Gluten Free" that doesn't name an author that was purchased TJMaxx for $3.50. I can't find the book online, but I also can't really recommend it for newly diagnosed Celiacs because even though it claims to be g-free, it calls for spelt flour quite a bit (which is glutenous). But I needed to give credit where credit is due for this yummy idea!

Gluten-free cranberry orange bread.

Friday, January 13, 2012

This cranberry orange bread is as good as it gets!
Usually, I base my critique of gluten-free bread on whether or not anyone can tell it's gluten-free. And this is one of those breads that is so moist and delicious, you'd just never know. I adapted this yummy recipe to make it gluten-free, and it's quickly become one of our favorites!

Canola oil spray
2 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix*
3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Finely grated zest of 1 to 2 large oranges
1 cup fresh cranberries, each cut in half

1. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Coat an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan with canola oil spray.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and orange juice.
4. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with sugar until pale and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Add the eggs gradually, beating continuously to incorporate. Then add the orange zest and vanilla and mix briefly to incorporate.
6. Using the slowest speed of the mixer, add the gluten-free flour in three increments, alternating with the addition of two increments of the yogurt-orange juice mixture. The last addition should be the flour mixture. Do not over mix. Stop the mixer and finish incorporating the ingredients by folding together with a large spatula.
7. Fold in cranberries. The batter should be well combined, but do not over mix or the bread will not be tender.
8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes.


*I use Pamela's Baking Mix and buy it in bulk from Amazon. It's far cheaper than buying it from Whole Foods or another natural foods market, and it's by far the best gluten-free substitution mix I've tried (and I've tried almost all of them). It's truly the only mix that I can honestly say, "I can't tell a difference." With any other mixes - Bob's Red Mill, King Arthur, even Betty Crocker - you can definitely tell a difference in the texture or the aftertaste. With Pamela's, you can't.

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac, knowing that I had to be gluten-free for the rest of my life was quite a psychological adjustment. The first gluten-free scones I tried to make (not using Pamela's) were so terrible I cried. The only downside to Pamela's is that it does contain a small amount of dairy and tree nuts, so if you're allergic to those, it won't work. Otherwise, I can't recommend it highly enough!

Winter Sale!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hi friends!

I wanted to let you know that there are lots of Brighter Day purses and clutches on sale right now through Monday. Just use the coupon code WINTER15 when you're checking out, and you'll get 15% off of your entire order! This only applies to the "ready to ship" bags that are already made... not custom orders.

Happy shopping!

Ode to Creator God.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's no secret that I love cities.
I still do, even after two years of living away from Chicago.

But I have to admit that living on this gorgeous land has swayed me a little.
Ok, it's swayed me a lot.
Because on a morning like this morning, there's just nothing like it.
I've always said that Fall is Franklin's best season. But this mild Spring-like Winter we've been experiencing has wooed me and now I'm not so sure.

As soon as I woke up this morning and saw that I'd slept through what must have been a deluge of rain, I had to step outside. It was a mild 53 degrees as I stood in my pajamas in my backyard and took these photos.

And then I just stood there, taking it all in.

There's just no city in the world where the birds tweet this happily,
the sun shines this brilliantly,
the dew smells this fresh.
And I know there aren't many backyards that have the sound of running water,
horses grazing just outside their pretty red barn,
and not one sound of a car.

I breathed in deeply the fresh, clean, cool air.
I breathed out praises to this Creator God who formed every blade of grass, every bare twig, every cloud in the sky with His own hands.
And tears came to my eyes.
What beauty He has given us on this earth.
And yet, it cannot even compare to the beauty of Heaven.


Monday, January 9, 2012

So I know I just posted a tearjerker video the other day, but you'll forgive me for posting one more, right?
Because I just can't help but share this.
It's from a local church here in Franklin, Fellowship Bible, and a couple of my friends on Facebook shared it. Grab a Kleenex.

I'll be honest and say that there have been times in my life that my greatest fear is having a child with special needs. It stems from my own selfishness and pride, but it's so scary to think that the rest of my life would be devoted to caring for another person. But seeing this obliterates that fear. God is using Ryan in my life. God is using Ryan in so many lives.

Thank you, Jesus, for Ryan. For his courage, his humility, his joy.
He is one beautiful person, and You knew exactly what You were doing when You created him.

Sewing Night #3!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's time for another sewing night! 
We'll be making this cute little wristlet (it measures approximately 9" x 5").
If you have access to a sewing machine and know how to thread it and sew a straight line, that's all you need to know! This one does involve a zipper, but it'll be easy to learn how to put it in. And you can get creative with what colors and fabrics you want to use for the outside and the inside lining.

Please email me if you're planning to come so I can email you back with specifics (like directions and how much fabric to buy). 

And for those who live super far away and can't make it, I'll post a tutorial on the blog soon after our sewing night so you can have your own little sewing night and make one for yourself. Sound good?

Hope to hear from you guys soon!

A new year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm not exactly sure where this post is going except that my heart feels so alive and fresh with the grace of a new beginning as the calendar flipped to 2012. I want so much from this year that I can't possibly fit it into resolutions.

Today was my first day of my last semester of nursing school. I was handed a full list of to-do's, a bulging schedule, and OB and trauma clinicals that I cannot wait for. I want this semester to really count. It's going to be intense, but I want to remember that while I am still a student, I am also some patient's nurse. I can't forget that. I'm not just "playing nurse"; I'm doing it.

I know this sounds cliché, but I want so badly to keep the most important things the most important things.
Less whining.
Less Pinterest: filling my mind and my computer screen with so many material things that I cannot should not have.
Less stressing out about not having perfect grades, a perfect bank account, a perfect cooking schedule, a perfect attitude... you get the idea.

More prayer: not just the "I need you to come through for me on this test, God" kind of prayer. The "I need you every moment of every day because life without you is meaningless and impossible" kind of prayer.
More breakfasts in bed (i.e. our New Years' Eve tradition above). More quality time with Shawn when we turn off our cell phones and computers and go grab coffee.
More passion for the things that really matter... the orphans and widows that are so close to God's heart, and the lavish giving of ourselves that we are called to as God's children. I feel a burning desire in my heart for these things, and I know they come straight from the Lord.

So 2012, I'm ready for you.
I can't wait to see what you have in store.

Can I recommend...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

If I could recommend only one book for you to read this year, it would be One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. It was one of my favorites from last year, and quotes like the one above have helped me to savor life just a little bit more. I can always use encouragement to be content, and this beautiful book helped me to do just that. I can't think of a better way to start this year than by being reminded over and over to give thanks for it.

2011: Year in Review.

It's 2012! Hard to believe, isn't it? As I look back on what 2011 held, I am so grateful. Signs of God's goodness and faithfulness to us are so evident as I read about our life in 2011. Here are just a few highlights of the year. Happy New Year, friends! 












Hosted a sleepover
Celebrated our 3rd anniversary in St. Louis

What am I looking forward to in 2012? 
Graduating from nursing school
Whatever adventure the Lord has for us... 

What about you? Any dreams/hopes/resolutions for the new year? 

CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan