17 November 2012

1500 miles

Over the past two weeks, I've travelled over 1500 miles. Today, I'm exhausted. When I arrived home last night after 9 hours on a bus, I couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to watch even 20 minutes of television. That's huge. I almost immediately went to bed.

Most of the travel was for work. Last week, we took freshmen to visit two universities. This week, we chaperoned juniors on a trip to visit five universities. I've discovered that the enjoyment of students increases exponentially by year in school. Even though I'm tired, the trip with juniors was so enjoyable. Plus, I laughed so, so much with the other chaperones--two of whom are my bosses. I literally made myself sick with laughter.

Last weekend, Husby and I saw An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert. It was lots of fun. We weren't sure what to expect. Although I feel like most people were there to see Anthony Bourdain, it was Eric Ripert that excited us. Just like when we met Chef Hubert Keller on our honeymoon, I feel like I would have been starstruck if we'd met him. Even looking while he walked on stage made my heart beat! I adore chefs.

This weekend begins my Thanksgiving break. I have plans to see several friends. This introvert is super excited to connect with these people in my life. Tomorrow, I'm heading to see my BFF of Granbury, Texas. I've been promised a visit of pajamas and coffee, games and laughing. I'm really, really excited for this time with her and her husband. Before I leave, I plan to make a stop by the store to buy ingredients for apple pie, sweet potato casserole, and Brussels sprouts with cranberries and pecans to make for Thanksgiving.

After being on the go so much, I'm thankful for a break. Thankful for family and friends. Thankful for cooking, coffee and laughter. Thankful for rest and tradition.

12 November 2012

101 in 1001

By design, I am a list maker. Looking at my desk, I see three lists. I love crossing things off, and more so, the feeling of accomplishment! For the past few years, I've seen 101 in 1001 lists on various blogs. I've wanted to create one, but it seemed like such a daunting task. Since I'm working to find me again, I decided to create a pretty exhaustive list of things I'd love to accomplish in the next 2.75 years. Here is my list of 101 things I'd like to accomplish in by August 10, 2015...

Start date: November 12, 2013
End date: August 10, 2015

1. Send 40 handwritten notes (0/50)
2. Donate 500 items (0/500)
3. Christmas goodies to neighbors
4. Send happies in the mail to 10 friends (0/10)
5. Write a monthly letter to our Compassion kids
6. Volunteer with Children's Miracle Network
7. Go on a mission trip

8. Watch all Star Wars movies (0/6)
9. Watch all Harry Potter movies (0/7)
10. Attend a haunted house
11. Take a cooking class together
12. Go to a movie at Liberty Hall
13. Expand our family
14. Start adoption process
15. Go on a spontaneous road trip
16. Go geocaching
17. Complete a puzzle
18. Go to three movies with Jeremy (that I don’t want to see) (0/3)
19. Create a Jesus Tree to use at Christmas

20. Attend BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)
21. Memorize 20 scriptures (0/20)
22. Participate in a 5K Color Run
23. Participate in a Turkey Trot
24. Participate in a Jingle Bell Run
25. Make bed every day for 30 days (0/30)
26. Lose 50 pounds (0/50)
27. Try a new hair color
28. Get a shellac manicure
29. Drink only water and coffee for 30 days
30. Eat paleo for 30 days
31. Become CPR certified
32. Don’t hit the snooze button for 7 days
33. Attend 3 book events (book signing, author q & a, etc) (0/3)
34. Wash my face every night for 30 days (0/30)
35. Successfully give up something for Lent (no cheating!)
36. Have family pictures made
37. Frame my degree
38. Purchase personalized notecards
39. Have a blog makeover
40. Be in a flash mob

41. Pay off car
42. Develop a budget
43. Stick to budget for 90 days (0/90)
44. Save $100 per month for one year (0/12)
45. Set-up monthly draft for tithe
46. Insure engagement/wedding ring
47. Choose a stock & invest
48. Have a no-spend month (only necessities—food & gas)

49. Take a calligraphy class
50. Take a craft class
51. Read 30 books (0/30)
52. Learn 2 songs on my oboe (0/2)
53. Learn to ice cookies with royal icing
54. Sew something
55. Make a mobile for nursery
56. Visit Tyler Museum of Art

57. Buy a freezer for the garage to store food
58. Buy beef from a local, organic farmer
59. Make a soufflé
60. Make chicken liver pâté
61. Make a flourless chocolate cake
62. Make homemade mozzarella
63. Learn to make tamales with Delia & Sarah
64. No eating out for a month (0/30)
65. No fast food for 60 days (0/60)
66. Make a reproducible recipe book from my grandmother’s handwritten spiral
67. Enter a recipe contest
68. Take lunch to work 4 times per week for a month (0/28)

69. Attend a taping of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!
70. Go to a midnight showing of a movie
71. Attend The Book of Mormon
72. Attend Wicked
73. Attend a sing-a-long movie
74. Visit NYC
75. Visit the Northwest
76. Visit New Orleans

77. Celebrate 12.12.12
78. Host a game night
79. Throw an Eggnog & Appetizers Christmas Party
80. Have a fondue party
81. Start a girls supper club; meet monthly for six months (0/6)

82. Organize every cabinet; then start over
83. Organize every drawer; then start over
84. Organize every closet; then start over
85. Organize garage
86. Organize photos in matching albums
87. Print honeymoon photos for album
88. Make J’s closet a safe place during emergency (stock with flashlights, water, pillows)

89. Finish master bedroom
90. Decorate a nursery
91. New flooring in house
92. New light fixture in dining room
93. Remove chair rail from dining & entry
94. Paint entry
95. Paint dining room
96. Change light fixtures in halls
97. Unpack extra room
98. Paint/finish nightstands
99. Sell couch & chairs in living room
100. Print, frame, & hang a wedding picture
101. Plant a magnolia tree

07 November 2012

-ing & a recipe

For me, the intimidating part about writing two thoughtful and, hopefully, thought-provoking posts (here and here) is that at some point there's a post that just normal. So, we're back to normal posts for a while at least. Here's what I've been doing this week:

Traveling:  On Monday and Tuesday of this week, me and three other chaperones took our 60ish member freshman class on a college tour. We visited two colleges, Texas A&M and Baylor. This means that I was around freshman boys non-stop for 36 hours, minus sleeping hours. What I learned? Boarding school for the freshman year is an option if we have boys.

Packing:  A couple of weeks ago at church, we grabbed two boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I love this ministry. It makes my heart to happy to pack boxes of goodies for kids who otherwise wouldn't receive anything. This year, I discovered that my dollar goes much further when I shop the post back-to-school sales. Things go on crazy clearance! I found the cutest chevron journal and striped socks, plus more. I'm convinced that the girls who receive these boxes will be thrilled.

Cooking:  As planned in this post, I cooked out of my new book, Practical Paleo. I made Blueberry  Lemon Muffins. I was a little hesitant since I'd never baked with coconut flour, but they are so good! And my house smells fabulous. Here's the recipe:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1 lemon, zest & juice
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk all wet ingredients together. Sift in dry ingredients and then stir until well blended. Gently fold in blueberries. Fill muffin tins half full. Makes 12 muffins.

**Modifications: 1) I didn't have a lemon, so I skipped this ingredient. 2) I used 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Because if some is good, more is better. 3) My blueberries were frozen, so instead of folding them in, I scooped the batter into the tin, and then poked the blueberries into the batter. Otherwise, they all freeze in a big clump in the bowl. 4) The recipe says to cook 35-40 minutes. Mine took about 20 minutes. Pull them out when they start browning and a toothpick comes out clean.

Folding:  Clothes. Towels. Sheets. (Actually, not sheets. I prefer to throw them into the drawer where they're stored, half-folded, half-wadded. It works.) I'm so behind on folding. I blame travelling. Or television.

So, that's what I'm doing this week. What about you?

05 November 2012

the election

After an almost five month break from blogging, it makes total sense that I'd write a post about something as controversial as politics. Here goes...

Tomorrow is an important day for our country. Although I am more than ready for this crazy election season to be over, I know that it'll be a few weeks before things die down, no matter the outcome. At least the bashing of both candidates will mostly be over. Until 6:30pm tomorrow, I'll be on a bus with 45 high school freshman; thankfully, my attention will be focused on something other than projected outcomes. My method to get through Election Day is to unplug. [Mom, I voted early.]

I hope that no matter the outcome, the leader--our President--will be respected and revered by all, but especially by believers in Christ. More importantly, I hope that Christ-followers, instead of lamenting or heartily rejoicing over the outcome will approach the throne of grace, covering our President with prayer. We're called to this, y'all; take a look at 1 Timothy 1:1-2 (NIV):

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Praying for our leader doesn't have to include praying that all he wants will happen or that all of his legislation will be approved. I'm sure that by recalling each president, we can think of at least a half-dozen things with which we do not agree. We don't have to align our beliefs with our leader, and we certainly don't have to agree with all that they do. But it is important and Biblical that we lift them up in prayer. Without being a fan of a President, we can pray for wisdom, pray for blessings over him, pray for his family, his relationships, his safety, his stress level, his leadership. Pray for future Presidents. And even past Presidents.

I know we're in election season, so there's been lots of bashing going on. As Americans, we have the freedom to say what we think; praise God for that! Unfortunately, that means disparaging the President. The Bible is clear that we are not to speak harshly about our leader: You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people. ~Exodus 22:28 (ESV) There's an adage that floats around, "If you don't vote; you can't complain!" Mostly that's interpreted as: if I vote, I can say whatever I'd like about the office. But you know what? As a believer, you shouldn't. God is pretty clear about that.

Over the next days, be careful with your words. Be mindful to pray for our country, for our President-elect. Again, Paul writes in 1Timothy for "...petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving...for all those in authority..." That means interceding for Tuesday's President-elect that may not have received your vote. Our God is sovereign. Even with an outcome with which we don't see hope, He can move and work and do great things.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. ~Romans 13:1 (NIV)

04 November 2012

finding me

I'm not sure how it happened, but over the past years, I feel like I've become a watered-down version of the person I once was. Last night, as Husby and I chatted over the sushi appetizer on a restaurant crawl, I shared with him that once married, I seemed to stop doing so many things that made me "me." I went onto explain that the creative person in me no longer creates; the cooking enthusiast/novice foodie no longer obsesses over a recipe to try; the scholar quit reading and writing; the planner no longer invites people over. Somehow, at some point, complacency set in.

I don't at all think it's because of marriage. It seems that seasons of busyness piled on top of each other, creating seasons of harried-ness. And when this happens, the introvert in me withdraws--preferably on the couch. At one point, I'd be happy on the couch reading something off of my ever-growing Amazon wishlist. Or catching up on blogs. Or the latest Real Simple, Food & Wine, or Country Living. But now? I have a stack of new magazines in a pile; I agonize over how many books I haven't read this year; I realize it's been weeks or months since reading a favorite blog. The time suck, and likely a huge reason that I've become less "me"? Social media.

I am ever-connected to a people through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Although it is great to stay in touch with [some] people, I'll be one of the first people to warn that social media gives a false sense of relationship. Many times, I have to give context when I say, "friend." It's Facebook-friend or Instagram-friend or blog-friend. And though I love that I've "met" new people through blogging and Instagram and the like, and I believe that if given the chance, we could be friends, it is still not an ideal way to create or maintain friendships.

The easy fix for finding me would be to create, cook, read, write, connect. I mean, how hard is that? But I think at this point, I need a practical way to do these things that I love, the things that make me, "me." My goals over the next days and weeks:

Create: I began following Her Southern Charm on Instagram. She illustrates/doodles her journals and planner. So, I don't have a journal (mostly because I'm not disciplined enough to write in it except on occasion), but I do have a planner (that I actually made!). Last week at work, I broke out our tub of markers that I hadn't touched since I started my job 4.5 years ago. I brought such joy to make my planner colorful and whimsical! I'll continue to do this.

Cook: I recently bought a cookbook, Practical Paleo. Each week for the next month, I will cook a recipe from this book. Please note: over the next three weeks, I will be in town nine days. I'm just realizing that this is a bigger deal than it seems.

Read: By the end of the year, I will read four books, including: Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, In the Garden of Beasts, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and A Year of Biblical Womanhood.

Write: Over the past months of my unintended hiatus, I've wondered if I should even continue blogging. Do you know how many blogs there are? I don't. But it's a lot. I wonder what I have to share that is different from others. More than anything, it's a way for me to write. Writing is something I'm [sometimes] good at. (Especially when I don't end sentences with a preposition!)

For me, if I read, then I'm able to write. The more words that go in, the more come out. Although my next few weeks are well-planned, my goal is to write four times a week on the blog.

Connect: I'm thankful for the upcoming holiday season since my next few weeks are so very busy. While holidays are typically busy, working at a school means I am able to have a week off at Thanksgiving and two at Christmas. So there's time to rest and connect.

Next weekend, Husby and I are hitting up Ft. Worth for "An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert." Although it may not be super-exciting to a vast majority to hear chefs talk about food, it thrills us! While there, we'll visit one of Tim Love's restaurants. (Side note: what celebrities are to most, chefs are to me.)

Mid-month, I'm heading to Dallas with a friend for some shopping and eating and to see the folks from Young House Love while they sign books at West Elm. The next day, Husby and I are heading out to visit a BFF couple in Granbury. I'm planning to stay in my pajamas for as long as possible each day we're at their house.

So that's my plan. I hope to report back at the end of the month--or possibly throughout--with the intentional things I do help me find myself again, find the the things I love to do, the things that make me, "me."