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Friday, November 25, 2016

Fall Food List

Otherwise known as the fall food bucket list.

I figured since it is the day after Thanksgiving I should probably write this post. Because soon people are going to say it is not fall anymore. I like to hold onto fall as long as possible. And I have to say that I'm a bit in denial about Christmas this year. But that's to be expected, Thanksgiving is my favorite.

Earlier in the autumn season I started creating a list of recipes I wanted to make or try for the first time. I wrote with the good ol' pen and paper a list of warm deliciousness.


Pumpkin soup - Marshall's Abroad - not yet
Chicken Chili - Smitten Kitchen - not yet, but may be bumped to winter
Acorn Squash - Buzzfeed's Tasty Kitchen
Sweet Potato Waffles - Joy the Baker
Pancetta, White bean, Swiss Chard Pot Pie - Smitten Kitchen - not yet, again may be bumped to winter
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup - Pin - not yet
Apple Cheddar Scones - Smitten Kitchen

Pumpkin Scones - adaptation of  Joy the Baker
Pumpkin Pie bites - Pin
Brown Butter Pecan Pie Bars (with Sea Salt)
Pumpkin Cheesecake (with homemade whipped cream)

So... it looks like I haven't made much progress but when you are only cooking for one and you start to get tired of an item after two days...I'm doing pretty good. That's all I'm saying.

I don't mind having pumpkin items into December, so I will probably  keep chugging along on this list. Bonus are all recipes that came up and fit in the category. This year we did a twist on the classic desserts for Thanksgiving, which you can see from the pecan bars and the cheesecake. I may have to add Butternut Black Bean Chili to the list as I'll be making it for Tuesday night's dinner group.

** links coming soon! But feel free to comment with questions!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

When Life is Rough, Buy Flowers

Life can be incredibly rough. And there are seasons to life. Life can get messy, especially when both hard and wonderful are thrown into the mix. I don't believe that hard and wonderful are mutually exclusive, but I do believe that some things are down right awful while others make us giddy with joy and delight.
There have been quite a few things that although my world is not "rocked" but them, my life does seem spiked with the bitterness of hard. I'm not even sure if that sentence make sense, but I think it's as accurate as I am going to get to what it feels like. It's the needle that stings and then you stop feeling it, but you know that it happened.
Last week after another sting, I was shopping at Costco. I needed a few things for a Wednesday night dinner party. The combination of tiredness from work and emotional tiredness from both the weekend and emotions at work led me to buy way more fruit than I can eat before it goes bad. I knew this, but let it happen because I honestly couldn't fight one more self-inflicted decision. And then I passed the flowers.
I stopped to look at them, decided it was frivolous, especially with all that was in my cart and walked on. Then I turned around and looked at them once more. I could do the $10, but not the $15 or the roses or... I walked past again. In my head once more, No I really want flowers. So I went back and chose the most colorful, the most wildflower like, and the least fake. Great qualifiers, right?
But I think that my soul needed them. It needed to be able to arrange them in a vase, or two. It needed to know that God created the simplest thing for a short amount of time for enjoyment. And my soul needed to be reminded that death and loss are natural, but so is blooming.
It's natural, special and to be enjoyed.

Friends, may you rise to meet the hard and truly enjoy the delights of life. I'm working on it too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dutch Lunch

A few years ago I worked for a company with Dutch origins. They were going through some transitions and I was as well. It was the perfect match for a summer job and there were a few things that happened which made me appreciate it that much more. One of those being lunch. Or as I came to call it, Dutch Lunch.

The people I worked with were all Dutch, they all spoke Dutch, and made me wish I knew Dutch! {To this day I still wish I knew Dutch.} I found it wonderful and fascinating, the ways in which they interacted within the office.  The most noticeable difference {besides the emails written in Dutch} was the way that lunch was done.  We would all, yes all, sit down together at the conference room table and eat the sandwich fixings from the refrigerator.  We ate on real plates, with real knives, and drank from real glasses.  

Sandwiches were done the Dutch way, open face.  There were multi grain bread loaves which were sliced for lunch {yes, in the office with a real bread knife}.  Then the choice of meat or cheese was put on top and eaten. There was mustard in the office, but I don't think I saw anyone use it.  It usually took 3-5 slices of bread to be satisfied. Then for dessert, nutella would come out and lavishly be spread on the multigrain bread. It all balanced out, between chocolate goodness and multi grains, right?

Everyone sat around the table and the whole office took a break.  It did take the place of having a "lunch break," but I didn't mind. If I really needed to I could have left. And I got off early enough that it didn't really matter.  When needed, people seemed to take care of their business and meetings at their most convenient time.

I think one reason I loved it and was enamored by this new lunch concept was that it was simple. It was simple, delicious, and not altogether unhealthy.  Would I have enjoyed a fruit or veggie thrown in? It would have been nice.  Did I love the new tradition of lunch?  Yes, even more.

I was completely spoiled by it. And not just because I was provided food, here in Silicon Valley that's all too common. It was more than the food, the mind was nourished with the body. There was easy conversation and banter, relationship. I taught and was taught about culture and customs and life over the simplicity of lunch.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dreaming and Celebrating

I've talked about it here before, but I've had a hard time doing it lately. Dreaming. I think the thing that can make dreaming scary is the fact that we are sharing in a vulnerable way, our deepest thoughts. 

I think dreaming is so healthy for us. I'm not going to site any studies or look up research. It's not that time right now. But I am going to say, I know that studies have been conducted and papers have been written. And I know that dreaming is good for you. I just know. 

I find that when I dream, I feel better. {Except when I realize how far off my dreams are}. In general, I feel more alive, more motivated, more powerful. And now I'm working on channeling those feeling that come from those dreams into goals. Things that can be measured, moved, and celebrated.

This past year or so I have had so many friends get engaged and married. This last weekend alone, produced two more announcements. And I am incredibly excited for both couples. They are going to get oh so celebrated by me. But you know what? I need to celebrate me too. I need to celebrate my victories, which allows me to celebrate them better and with my whole heart. 

Let's celebrate the little things ya'll. when we celebrate, we are throwing a thankful party. We are saying this is good and i have to share it. We are slowing down time and enriching our perspective. We are saying thank you to God for life.

Let's celebrate waking up and the sun shining. 
Let's celebrate the best cup of coffee or the aroma of freshly brewed tea. 
Let's celebrate color, sights and sounds. 
Let's celebrate getting a project finished and imperfect progress on the next one. 
Let's celebrate goals being met and new ones being set. 
Let's celebrate relationships and growing up. 

Let's celebrate. 
And then let's dream what more we can celebrate.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Best We Know How

I had been behind horrible drivers the whole way there. I needed to return a few items and there were a few items that needed to be replaced, desperately needed to be replaced. I finally arrived, relatively unharmed and walked in the doors only to realize the return counter was at the whole other end of the store. That's ok, I thought, We need to have an attitude shift anyways. We are here now. We can do this and then we will take ourselves home for dinner.

I'm thankful for attitude adjustments. So very thankful.
I was in line for a minute tops, when a man stepped behind me. I could tell without even turning around that he was homeless, or at least down on his luck. The way he talked had an edge and a toughness to it. It was somewhat mumbled and strung together in a cadence that higher education folks don't normally use. 
I turned slightly, as he was on his phone and I didn't really want him to know I was watching and listening. I learned a lot about his life those next few minutes in line. It's amazing what phone conversations can tell you. But the reason he was in the returns line was what made me have so much compassion for him and so much pride.

The man had bought a shirt for his interview that day

The hanger said XL, the shirt it turns out was a Medium. "I put the shirt on for the interview and it seemed tight. It was a medium! Why do they even sell mediums? Do ya know any men tha' are size medium? {I do haha} I mean mediums should be in da boys section. So now I'm waiting...Oh, I talked to the guy at the restaurant taday and he said that he just hired some guys but he doesn't think one of 'em is gonna work out. It'd be 6am Monday thru Friday and it'just prepin' the food, but I told 'em I'd do it. He gonna let me know next week. Yeah, and it pays $10.50 and hour, so it pretty good..."

Oh sweet heavens. My heart swelled as I thought of him going to an interview. Him trying to get a job. Him working to work. I mean he had to set aside money to buy the damn shirt! 

I was so proud of him. So proud of this man I didn't know, that was doing the best he knew how. I could have judged him all over. I also shouldn't have been proud for his success, because God knows I didn't do anything to directly help him. I couldn't help it. He was trying and sometimes that's all any of us can do. Try to do the best we know how.

Attitude adjustments are great when they continue. As soon as I got home I prepared my dinner. Then I did prep for my dinners the rest of the week, sticking it in the oven. My entire kitchen began filling with smoke. There was a haze. I was hesitant to check the oven. I had only put chicken on foil on a cookie sheet. There was no way that my chicken was smoking, but then there was grey smoke coming out of the oven. Oh no.

I opened the oven to find a flame from the bottom to the cookie sheet. Full blazing. Unbeknownst to me, my roommate's bacon from the morning had leaked. There was a grease fire in my oven. Oven off. Chicken out. Shut it tight. Open all the windows and the sliding door. Awesome. Now we wait. 

I didn't loose it 'til another roommate suggested we put water on it...our electric oven...with a grease fire. So then I might have had a bad attitude. 

But this. We have a house and a roof. And for today we all have jobs and we can all shop for shirts that fit us for interviews and outings. And we still have a kitchen with an oven in it.
We are doing the best we know how.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In Just One Week

Last Wednesday, a mere one week ago, I was doing something completely and utterly different than I am today.  I was sitting at a crude desk, surrounded by first graders. The bench was tight as two little bodies sat and I occupied the last bit, my long legs continuing down the aisle. How does one sit ladylike when she’s wearing a dress and sitting 2 and half feet off the dirt floor? I attempted.

I was starting to loose my voice as I tried to talk over the kindergartners next door, their voices coming through the thatch walls. “Ok, and now write, ‘I am’…that's correct ‘i’…am…’a,’’m.’ Now write your age. Write how many years you have. That’s right, now ‘years old’…” I continued. “Faith, sweetheart, I need you to now write ‘I like’ and then what you like to do…Princess are you finished? Can you please read Christian his letter?”

In the moment it was both a huge challenge and exhilarating. It was amazing how much they could do and at the same time how much they have to learn.

I loved first grade. I remember things about first grade that I don't remember about other years of school. I remember really learning how to read and doing math problems. I remember learning how to address a letter and having both a mouse and chickens as class pets. My teachers were a little crazy, I’ll admit, but in the best way possible. It was all so that we would learn.
As I sat in that first grade classroom for the third sweltering day, the day where I knew most of their names and knew the ones that were helpers and the ones that just needed extra attention, I saw their potential. They didn't have pencil boxes, overhead projectors, incubators or tubs of markers. But just like my first grade teachers, their teachers wanted them to learn and grow and excel. 

As we all together inched {and I mean snail pace} towards finished letters, I couldn't help but have love and joy overflowing within me. Such a simple act, writing a letter, but what a profound impact. Each child went home with a letter and a photo of the person who took the time to send them care. And each child wrote a letter. It may have been done with me muttering “oh dear” under my breath, without edits {and thus a few crossed out words} and very much in colored markers. But they did it. They wrote them. They struggled and fought through.  And I was so very proud.

Pictures coming soon!

Monday, March 28, 2016

New Topics, New Languages

I come up with new topics for this blog all the time. It used to be where I would write in my daydreams my blog post. And I would edit in my daydreams too. "Let's reword that," "What's a better way to say xyz?" And then I let go. I left this place, though I would always say..."yeah I have a blog that I haven't written in a while."During that time I stopped writing in my head. 

I think writing a post in your head or brainstorming another topic is like learning a foreign language. They say that you have truly mastered a language that you dream in that language. The first time I heard this I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. And I can't say I experienced it so therefore I believe it to be true. You don't master a language or truly build a passionate subject until you're whole being is invested, even your sleep. It's not when you have your first full conversation. It's not when you decide this would be a great idea.

It's when you are invested. 

This last year I have stubbled and failed at the art of discipline. My thought has been, let me discipline the tasks I need to do and the things that are best for my well being to then be able to free up my "other" time for slowing down. It sounds a little backwards, but some of the people I know that are the most like how I want to be have an art of discipline in their life. They workout every morning, they read their bible every morning, they plan nutrients into their diet, they create empty space to not be disciplined.And some of this requires simplification. All this to say that I'm back in a sense. I'm back to thinking of blog topics and soon I'll be writing posts in my daydreams. So I'm exploring what I want to be here. For awhile I might just write. No parameters and full of life thoughts.

I think we are allowed to give our self room and space to create and explore. Let's explore.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Travel Bug

I am completely and utterly under the influence of the travel bug. Any of my extra time is being put into projects outside of this blog. I'm anxious to be back here. I'm axioms to be writing again.

Quite a few things have happened since I last blogged. You know, big life things like moving, other people's engagements, weddings and babies. All this has equated to putting energy into other parts of my life and investing in others' lives, as well as being gone... a lot. {My coworkers joke about it and an old friend texted me last night saying, you've been busy a lot since you've moved, huh}

The other part of the puzzle is that I used to read blogs all the time. I still love reading them, but I've gone back to books. And I'm much more picky about who I follow and read. There are still the favorites that I go back to, but its not the same. Which is ok. People change, their blogs have morphed and so have I. We are not static beings and that's what makes this a natural part of life. 

The other part of all this is that I am in charge of the content for my company's blog. I make sure we are on track, I load it into Wordpress, and I now know enough html to be a little overwhelmed by what I wish this space looked like. And since I'm in it day in and day out, I don't really want to do it when I get home. The change is coming though, I want to be more creative and can do that in this space. 

Oh and don't even talk to me about elevating my voice and self promoting. I get to do that on behalf of my company often, which equates to everyday. While I am super thankful to have a job {praying about that last night and this morning} I do this for others and can't seem to do it for myself in the evening and during my recharge time.

But...Big News Again

I am not engaged, I am not married, and I am not growing a human. Now then. I seem to only announce exciting things here and I want to change that too. For now you need to know that I'm going back to Africa. Africa is a big continent and I get to go back to my first love, Liberia. I'm so excited. Unbelievably so. We leave the first week of April. It's coming soon.

I probably won't be talking about it much before then, but if you have questions let me know. And it's my hope that I can share some recaps here.  Here's to being under the influence of the travel bug!