Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"don't forget to come back"

In less than 30 minutes we'll land in Addis Ababa. The sun is up after a slow and stunning rise over the desert and the Nile River. I haven't slept a wink but I'm happy and excited and only slightly fuzzy-headed. A little boy behind me cried for a long time so I asked his mom if I could hold him. She gladly accepted and after an hour of bouncing him around and letting him crawl all over me he FINALLY crashed across my lap. I decided as I held him that I should pray for each child that I ever hold. God loves His children. I haven't been very comfortable but for the most part I've been able to maintain a grateful and patient attitude. I'm so in awe of the fact that any minute now we'll land in Africa! Lord, thank you for planting this dream in me and for cultivating it. 

Sunday (a week and a half later)
We're about to arrive in Virginia! This flight has been sooo long. I just realized that I never wrote about Friday. We only had about 45 minutes at the children's home to say our goodbyes. I cried and cried and hated driving away and seeing all the girls waving, tears running down their faces. I hope I can see them again. 
-my journal

"Don't forget to come back. I don't have any parents.
Keep praying for me. I also will pray for you." -Nancy
I ache to hug Nancy and her sisters and tell them in person that they have not been forgotten! 

our team at Zion Project's children's home - photo by Lance Rutherford

health to one's whole body

I've been chewing on Proverbs 4 lately, particularly verses 20-27. It's such beautiful fatherly advice from Solomon to his children, and I found myself going back to it every night for the past couple of weeks. It's easy to skim a passage and think, okay, I get it, we're supposed to do this and that. The weight of it doesn't sink in, though - that's why I've been re-reading it over and over. For me, it helps if I focus on one or two verses at a time and ask myself what is really being said here? I thought it would be interesting to go through the passage verse by verse and write them down in my own words as a method of observation (not as a replacement to the original).

from pinterest

Proverbs 4:20-27 NIV (also love the ESV)

My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

my observations on what is being said here:

My child, focus on what I am saying;
don't let my teachings go in one ear and out the other.
Don't lose sight of my wisdom,
Give my words a home in your heart;
for those who seek them will find true existence
and their bodies will receive full nourishment.
More than anything, protect your heart,
for all of your thoughts and actions come from it.
Do not allow wicked words to come out of your mouth;
Hold your tongue from damaging babble.
Do not let yourself be distracted;
Look only at what is right in front of you.
Take time to think about the direction you desire for your life
and match your actions to your words.
Do not veer off the path you are on;
Watch your step lest you fall into a pit.

Monday, September 24, 2012

state art from etsy

When we found out we weren't moving last winter I promptly purchased a piece of Virginia state art from Etsy as a sort of present to myself for being put through the agony of uncertainty. Jokes on me, 'cuz we moved to Maryland! As soon as we moved in I ordered another print.

I finally got around to finding frames and hung the prints last weekend. I wonder if any other states or countries will join them in the future? I don't know what I'll do if we end up moving to another part of Virginia or Maryland... oh well, these work for now! I love seeing them on the wall.

The prints are from this shop.
The frames are from Michaels and were buy one get one free!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


this is what my hair looked like when we moved in April

a week later I got highlights and had several inches cut off

I embraced the curls/waves all summer long

Around late July I started seriously considering a pixie cut.
Crazy, I know. Crazy cute and exciting.
Also crazy scary and potentially awful.
I would make hair appointments and cancel them an hour later.
I printed out pictures of pixies I loved and pixies I hated.
I even had a dream that I had a pixie hairstyle!

I knew I wasn't ready to chop off all of my hair, though,
so in August I had my mom cut some layers around my face.

I also straightened my hair for the first time in months.

I didn't think I wanted anything in-between long and a pixie,
but I changed my mind.
Yesterday I went from this:

to this:

and today (unwashed):

I LOVE it! I adore long hair, but I realized that the main reason the pixie appealed to me is because it shows off the collarbone and neck. This length does just that without being quite as drastic of a change. It felt drastic during the cut - it's been years since I've had so many inches taken off! For once in my life I was smiling the entire time my stylist was snipping. Now I can't stop whipping my hair back and forth!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


A few months ago a friend of mine clued me in to Wish List on Amazon. With the click of a button you can add any purchasable item on the Internet to your Wish List (you can create more than one), so it works perfectly for keeping track of things that catch your eye. You can write a comment (such as, "I like this in blue") and prioritize which items you like the best. You can see if an item has been purchased if you want, but I set up my list to not spoil any surprises for me.

I usually start compiling my birthday and Christmas list mid-fall, which means for a solid two months my poor mom and husband will get e-mails like, "I want this please! Size small! Green or blue, whichever you like better!" With the Wish List, I can keep everything in one place and add to it or edit it whenever I want. I started compiling my list last week - I couldn't wait! Stop making cute stuff, world! I know I'm going to see tons of things between now and Christmas, so I'm trying to take it slow and only add things that I would love to get. Right now the list includes a denim jacket, a robe I've been wanting forrrevvver and a couple of gold necklaces from Etsy.

Even though I completely support the tradition of exchanging presents, sometimes I catch myself getting the gimmies. It's so important for me to recognize that stuff is just stuff, and that I don't need stuff to find satisfaction or feel fulfilled. I also think about little pleasures that we often take for granted. When Andy and I stuff shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, I try to think of things the kids would need (toothpaste, soap, washcloth) and little things that would bring them joy (a jump rope, hair bows, action figures).

If you could have a Wish List for things that you can't buy, what would it include? What about life's purchasable little pleasures?

My lists would look something like this:
sleeping in
head massages from non-professionals
the beach
watching my dog swim
feeling sun on my face
seeing old friends
walking hand in hand w/ someone I love
Palmer's cocoa butter swivel stick - my absolute fav lip balm
books books books books books
coffee coffee coffee coffee
little notebooks and colored pens
nail polish
Netflix (hehe)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

chili season

Don't football and chili go so well together? We love chili so much that I make it year-round, but we crave it even more when there is a cool breeze outside. We went to a cookout on Saturday night and I wore a sweatshirt and ate pumpkin pie. Mmm I just love fall. I get to see Andy looking cute in his football jerseys and he gets to eat my soups, pies and muffins. Win win!

I have been dying to try some of the recipes in my Bon Apetit cookbook and finally got around to making turkey chili with white beans (which they claim is fabulous over hot dogs the next day). The depth of flavor in this dish is incredible. I love the hint of cocoa and cinnamon. Don't let the odd mix of ingredients scare you off - I'm telling you, this recipe is a winner! It isn't a spicy chili, but it has a tiiiny bit of heat. If you're completely against heat, use less chili powder and cumin. You can always add more later.

from Dreamy Dish

Turkey Chili with White Beans
Adapted from Bon Appétit

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, medium chop
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ pounds lean ground turkey
¼ cup chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
3 cups (24 oz) beef stock or canned beef broth
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
3 15 oz cans small white beans, rinsed, drained (I used two cans of northern white beans and one can cannellini beans)

suggested toppings:
Chopped red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Light sour cream

1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 8 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute.
2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. Ladle into bowls and serve with suggested toppings.

Friday, September 14, 2012

majestic creation

here's what I've been up to this morning:

1. view of the sunset from the top of Mauna Kea
 listen to "You're Beautiful" by Phil Wickham here

2. my brothers crossing the Waipio River where it meets the Pacific
listen to Jesus Culture sing "Light of Your Face" here

3. fields we passed on the drive to Mauna Kea (pic taken by my sister Sky)
listen to Chris Rice singing "Your Praise Goes On" here

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

look for less: colored cords

Even though the afternoons here in Maryland continue to be warm, the mornings and evenings have been blissfully cool. I started my fall shopping this weekend at LOFT and walked out with a few cozy items, including these purple cords (which I got for around $36). I can't wait to wear them! Would you wear purple pants?

from What I Wore
Jessica used purple, white and black as her color scheme and made it interesting by playing with patterns and adding a slouchy leather bag. For my look, I used purple, white, navy and brown.
look for less - colored cords

Nordstrom BP bag - $42 (I also like this $30 tote from Target)

Total outfit: $214

Sunday, September 9, 2012

chicken burritos, cauliflower fritters and spaghetti squash au gratin

I tested three dishes I found on Pinterest this week, and holy cow they were amazing! I implore you to try at least one of them. Your taste buds will thank you.

*click on the name of the dish to go to the original recipe.*

from SkinnyTaste
THIS IS NO LONGER A REVIEW OF SANTA FE CHICKEN. :) We loved this recipe after tweaking it quite a bit, but then my friend clued me in to a much easier and just as fabulous (though not quite as healthful) way of making what I call "chicken burritos.” Here it is, folks:

In a crockpot, place 3 chicken breasts, 1 jar of medium salsa, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn and 1/4 cup of diced canned or jarred jalapeños. Cook on high 3-5 hours or on low 6-8. Remove chicken and shred with a fork, then return it to the crockpot. Serve the chicken mixture wrapped in a warm tortilla with sour cream and cheese. It's also great over rice (or you can put rice in the tortilla like they do at Chipotle).

from SkinnyTaste

You might recognize this dish from my round-up of cauliflower recipes. Andy begged me to make them as soon as he saw that post. These crispy little fritters were FANTASTIC. I wasn't terribly hungry so I ate two and nothing else. They were easy to make and easy to cook, but next time I will halve the recipe. The original recipe makes 24 fritters!

My notes: I used a large head of cauliflower and figured it had to be around four cups worth. I also boiled it instead of steaming. I used dry parsley because I didn't have any fresh. (Here is a helpful how-to on subbing dry herbs for fresh.) Next time I will probably try using parmesan cheese instead of pecorino romano, because the cheese flavor wasn't strong considering how sharp and salty the cheese is. Plus, pecorino romano is more expensive and I always have parmesan on hand. One reviewer said using cheddar worked nicely, too. I also plan to add scallions (green onions) next time. **Use one tablespoon of olive oil to start!** Andy was using my laptop while I was cooking so I had him call out the ingredients to me. I put the entire 1/4 cup of olive oil in the skillet and realized my mistake as soon as I began frying the fritters. Everything turned out fine but the fritters browned better and tasted less oily once I had cooked the first batch. I put my fritters on a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath to let the oil drip down, but if you use the right amount of oil you probably won't need to do that.

from Dandy Dishes
Please tell me you've tried spaghetti squash. It is so so so good and it's also really fun to make! (Click here for a great recipe using spag. squash plus directions on how to cook the squash). People who have made this au gratin dish claimed it tasted like hash brown casserole, so of course I had to try it! We devoured it. 

My notes: I used dried thyme, but other than that I followed the recipe and the dish turned out perfectly. Next time I think I'll add some sautéed mushrooms and serve it as a main dish instead of a side. 

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I know I've been pretty absent about blogging this summer. I'm out of my funk, but my desire to share my heart or post pretties has been overshadowed by my desire to spend less time on my computer and more time engrossed in a book or spending time with family and friends.

I initially had a bad attitude about our Labor Day weekend. We only had one thing planned and I pictured us spending the rest of our time shoveling crackers and cookies into our mouths while watching episode after episode of Seinfeld. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Instead, the weekend turned out to be the perfect blend of activity and relaxation. Laurel and her husband came for an unexpected visit and stayed until Friday afternoon. I can't tell you how happy I was to have them in our home (we only see each other once, maybe twice a year). Andy wrapped up his work projects shortly after they left and we spent the rest of the afternoon searching for new basketball shoes. Finding shoes for Andy has always been an exhausting endeavor (he wears a size 14 and we're both picky about colors and shapes), but we walked out of Off Broadway with three pairs of mens shoes and we only spent $136! We even managed to have a fun time while browsing - the store was pretty empty and they had great music playing, so we danced through the aisles and lip-synced to the songs. Here's a little piece of advice for ya - marry someone who you can be silly with.

On Saturday we played pinochle and saw "The King and I" at Wolftrap with my parents. Did anyone else have a little crush on Yul Brynner when they were younger? How cute would it be to have "Shall We Dance" as the first dance at a wedding? I'm sure I'll have the music in my head for a long time.

Sunday was truly a day of rest. Andy usually only reads when we're on vacation, so imagine how thrilled I was when he sat down next to me on the couch with his book in hand! We had the coziest time together. We switched gears that evening and had a merry time at an impromptu wine and cheese party that our friends threw together. The guys argued about sports and the girls talked books and decorating. We decided to start a book club (be still my heart!) and we played Trivial Pursuit and Catch Phrase. I found my Frederick people!

Most of yesterday was spent reading, but the highlights of the day were going to the dog park with a friend and her pup and watching the episodes I had missed in the last season of Parks and Rec. I also spent a good amount of time on choosing the first book for the club to read. I landed on one I bought a few months ago but haven't read yet - "Little Princes" by Conor Grennan.

These times when I can read when I want, sleep in til ten a.m., watch hours of TV with Andy, stay out late with friends and generally do what I please will probably not last forever. I'm going to embrace them while I can.