Sunday, February 28, 2010

Balancing Act

"The truth is balance.  However, the opposite of truth, which is unbalance, may not be a lie."
--Susan Sontag

"When we come to a truthful understanding of a problem or a challenge, we are often surprised by the simple balance of the solution.  We usually come to that understanding by a route that is unsought, or at least unfamiliar to us.  The balance is a surprise, a gift.

"When we're stuck in a state of unbalance, negativity, or fear, we can't get out of it by pretending to look for balance, or by forcing ourselves to find some kind of middle ground.  We can only submit to the truthfulness of unbalance and do our best to turn into new ways to see a clearer, simpler picture."
--Mina Parker, "Less is More"

A good reminder.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Donuts with sprinkles.
2.  Surprising my Confirmation boys with Easter Pez dispensers - a huge hit! 
3.  Getting to participate in a "grown-up" Sunday School class!
4.  Seeing some of our college kids at church - Kelsey and Curtis!
5.  My Sunday nap - so refreshing!
6.  Cleaning the house - felt good, and looks good!
7.  Another splendid day!  (I actually cracked open the moonroof today - I couldn't help it!)
8.  Playing with the dog...  and her millions of tennis balls! 
9.  The hubby coming home!
10.  Girl Scout cookies!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Photo Hunt: Daily

Daily?  How about a tour of my office!  It's cozy and comfortable - perfect for long hours, and catching up with youth and adults from our congregation...  And a warm place to relax on cold afternoons...

How many people do you know that have a "Have You Hugged Your Jesus Today?" doll in their office?!  Ha ha ha - it was given to me by a former Confirmation Mentor - my friend, Gil.  It makes me laugh every time I look at it!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  The dog letting me sleep til 6:30am.
2.  A good night's sleep - despite the fact the hubby is not here.
3.  A great Church Council Retreat at church today - a great group to work with this year!
4.  Praying throughout our church for all the different ministries...  Very cool.
5.  Lots of laughter.
6.  Another Beautiful day!
7.  Successful shoe shopping.  (That's a rarity for me!)
8.  A dry run-through of packing for Europe.  I think I'm set!
9.  Coupons, sales, and gift cards - gotta love 'em!
10.  A VERY cuddly dog tonight!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fave Five - February 26th

It's FRIDAY!  Time to look over the last week and take notice of the things that make us smile.  If you'd like to play along...  Link up at Susanne's blog!
Here are mine:

1.  Spending the day at a ski hill last Saturday with some youth and adults from my church.  It was so fun to hang out, laugh, and spend a beautiful day out with people.  I even made a new friend at the chalet... 

2.  Our church's first 24 Hour Prayer Vigil was last weekend - and they rocked it!  I've asked people to send me stories of their experiences during their prayer times...  So cool.  So moving.  So powerful!

3.  My book group being the sweet people they are.  I was overwhelmed and crazy last week through the weekend... so they canceled book group this week to give me a break.  So sweet - but I missed them!

4.  We had a fun game night at church on Wednesday.  I got to play Jenga, Uno, Bingo, Would You Rather... and probably something else!  I was playing with one of our younger members, little Jacob (he's 8? maybe?) - and he has a very short attention span, which kept our group on our toes!  But we laughed and had so much fun!

5.  Phone calls with my sister and my mom.  Goofiness.  Laughter.  So much fun.

And...  Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Sleeping in an hour.  Thank you, Bailey!
2.  Lunch with the hubby before he left town for the weekend.
3.  Paychecks.
4.  A GORgeous day!
5.  Running errands all afternoon - and everyone was in a good mood and friendly!  (That doesn't happen very often...)
6.  Buying my suitcase for our trip... 
7.  3 weeks til we go to Europe!
8.  New shoes.
9.  A yummy dinner of pasta!
10. The smell of bread baking in the bread maker....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Emily!

"Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship."
--Margaret Mead
Today is my sister, Emily's, birthday!  For 28 years we have played, fought, laughed, cried, argued, surprised, wondered about... and loved each other. 

We were horrible as little kids - playing Barbies happily one minute, pulling out each other's hair the next!  We tried sharing a room with bunk beds... and then I found myself in a tiny little room - as long as I could have it to myself!  Sometimes we were too much alike - causing competition and distrust.  Other times we were so opposite we thought the other was simply crazy!

Through the years, we've chosen our own paths in life.  We've made decisions that sometimes looked nutty to the rest of the world - but we supported one another.  We've cheered for each other in the good times, and cried with one another in the hard times.  There are times we have been distant... and times we can't seem to have enough time together!

Over the last few years, Emily has gotten married, moved to Pittsburgh - where her and her husband created a wonderful life full of friends and community, they've had a beautiful little girl, and now have moved even farther away - to ALASKA!  But somehow, through all of these transitions and changes - we're the closest we've ever been.  It's a huge blessing in my life - and today, I am so thankful for you, Em!

After talking on the phone the other night about recipes, skhoop skirts (!), and other funny stories, I walked out to the living room to my hubby asking, "did you ever think you and your sister would spend 45 minutes laughing and talking about recipes on the phone?!"  Nope...  Never did.  And I love it!

Happy Birthday, Em.  I love you!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Cinnamon sugar.
2.  The dog being overly affectionate.
3.  Some fun new books - "Be The Surprise!" is a fun, quick read.
4.  Getting out of the office for a while today.
5.  Sunshine!
6.  Bison chipotle taco leftovers.  Mmmm...
7.  A fun phone call from Em on her birthday...  I was supposed to call her!
8.  A fun phone call with Mom, too.
9.  A glass of red wine at the end of the day.
10.  Getting excited for our upcoming trip to Europe!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yummy Wednesday - Irish Brown Soda Bread

Ever since we went to Ireland a year ago, I've been looking for a good Brown Soda Bread recipe.  When we were there, I devoured the stuff at breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  Couldn't get enough.  But every recipe I've tried hasn't been the same...  and I was really hoping not to have to rely on packaged mixes...  So I had all but given up.

Until this week!  My "Cooking Light" magazine came - with a whole section about St. Patty's Day Foods.  And Wa-la!  Irish Brown Soda Bread.  I looked through the recipe, realized I had all the ingredients, and before I even finished paging through the rest of the magazine - had the loaf in the oven!

It's really good.  If you've never had Brown Soda Bread before, let me warn you - it's not sweet, it's not savory.  It's hearty, a little dense, healthy, and has steel-cut oats in it which adds a little crunch now and then.  It's very plain - but wonderful with a little butter and jam, or cheese, or really, just about anything else!
If you make it, I'd love to hear your thoughts!  And, if you are a Irish Brown Soda Bread connesuir - I'd love to hear how this ranks in your book (and if you have other recipes you love!).

Irish Brown Soda Bread
(From Cooking Light Magazine)

You'll need:
Cooking spray
11.25 oz whole wheat flour (about 2.5 cups)
2.25 oz all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup steel-cut oats (such as McCann's)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

To Make:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Line the pan with parchment paper, and coat with cooking spray.
Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife.  Combine flours and steel-cut oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Combine buttermilk and egg; add to flour mixture.  Stir until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into prepared pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Invert bread onto a wire rack; cool completely.  Remove parchment; slice bread into 12 slices.


Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Still no TV in the mornings!
2.  My lotion on clearance at Target!  ( I loaded up!)
3.  Amanda's "Happy Birthday" message yesterday (a month early)- too funny!
4.  An easier week.  I'm feeling caught up!
5.  The hubby's hard work cleaning the bathrooms - really well!
6.  Lenten dinner at church - fun people and lots of laughter!
7.  Playing games with Jacob, his dad, and his grandma - Jenga, Uno, Bingo, Would You Rather...  it was a busy night!
8.  Getting to bed early again - I think I'm getting used to this!
9.  Cadbury eggs.
10.  Ice cold milk.  Yum.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Thoughts

Hmmm...  Today was a good day.  I've been sticking to my decision to not turn on the TV in the mornings - which leaves lots of time to read, prepare breakfast and lunch, exercise, and take my time.  I love it.  It's one of those things that seems impossible to me, until I decide to do it - and then it's easy and so nice...

At work, I got a lot of things done that have been nagging me for the last week.  I had some great conversations with some fun people - including my sister in Alaska!  We had our first mission trip meeting for this year - a group of about 10, so far, going to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota this summer.  Lots of laughter there - that's a good sign!  And my book group, being the sweet people they are, gave me the night off. 

I got to come home to dinner on the stove thanks to my wonderful hubby.  I got to watch the full 2 hours of "LOST" on the TV (not the computer a couple of days later)!  The hubby busted his butt cleaning bathrooms and getting some projects done.  And, we got to just lounge around for the evening...

It was a good day. I needed that.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Steel cut oats for breakfast.
2.  Time to read in the morning.
3.  Big, fluffy snowflakes!
4.  Getting things accomplished at work!
5.  Our Music Director, Jennifer, is doing "Bedrace for Bridging" - I'm so amused and impressed!
6.  Our mission trip meeting was fun and interesting.  I think we have a great group of people!
7.  Bison Chipotle Tacos for dinner.  Yum.
8.  LOST - it's addicting.
9.  A great hubby.
10.  Another night going to bed early!  I'm going to be a whole new person soon! 

Monday, February 22, 2010


"In a virtuous circle, research shows, being happy energizes you, and at the same time, having more energy makes it easier for you to engage in activities - like socializing and exercise - that boost happiness.  Studies also show that when you feel energetic, your self-esteem rises.  Feeling tired, on the other hand, makes everything seem arduous.  An activity that you'd ordinarily find fun, like putting up holiday decorations, feels difficult, and a more demanding task, like learning a new software program, feels overwhelming.

"I know that when I feel energetic I find it much easier to to behave in ways that make me happy."
--Gretchen Rubin, "The Happiness Project"

I've started reading "The Happiness Project" out of curiousity...  and am finding it interesting and fun.  For the month of January, Gretchen decides to focus on Vitality- Boosting Energy.  She makes goals to 1)Go to sleep earlier.  2)Exercise better.  3)Toss, restore, organize.  4)Tackle a nagging task.  5)Act more energetic.

Funny.  These are all things I feel like I need to be working on, too.  I've been staying up way too late.  For no reason.  I just stare at the tv, hoping all the random thoughts will stop long enough for me to doze off...  Last night, my hubby practically challenged me to come to bed at 10:15pm.  I gave it a try - and lo and behold!  I fell asleep!!!  Woo-hoo!  (I think I'll try that again tonight...)

Exercise better.  I've been starting.  I've managed about 3 days a week lately...  Tomorrow I will get up and get on the elliptical.  Ok - I told the whole world that.  Hold me to it, ok?

Toss, restore, organize.  Ha ha ha. I've started that already this month.  Our kitchen is looking good!  I'm hoping this weekend (while the hubby's out of town) to tackle a couple of closets.  The weird thing?  I can't wait.  I know, I'm weird.  I feel so much better when things are cleaned out...  It's free-ing in a weird way.

Tackle a nagging task.  Well, the guest room closet would be one nagging task...  I'll have to make a list of them.  Maybe one a month is good?  What kinds of nagging tasks do you have?

Act more energetic.  The funny thing is, when I'm outside my home, I feel like I do act more energetic...  Up until my evening meetings.  Then, I just can't hide it anymore!  I'll work on it...

"It is by studying the little things," wrote Samuel Johnson, "that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible."

What "little things" are you tackling this month?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A day off.  No emails.  No phone calls.  No work.
2.  Turns out I didn't crack a tooth afterall!  (I think my dentist thinks I'm a dental hypochondriac!)
3.  A haircut.  Boy, did I need one!
4.  Time to read in bed this morning.  Nice.
5.  A Valentine in the mail from Miss Finley!
6.  My "Cooking Light" magazine came today...  with a whole section on Irish food!  Woo-hoo!
7.  I made the Irish Brown Soda bread immediately.  Fabulous.  Makes me want to go back to Ireland!
8.  Going for a walk with the hubby and the dog (even if I did fall on my butt, thanks to the miles of ice on our trails!).
9.  Strawberry milkshakes for dessert.
10.  Feeling ready for bed already - 9pm...  Lovely

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just Enough

"I think knowing what you cannot do is more important than knowing what you can do.  In fact, that's good taste."
--Lucille Ball

"Do what you can do.  No more, no less.  That's my new mantra."
--Mina Parker, "Less is More"

What a perfect reading for this weekend!  I've been busy, busy, busy - there hasn't been enough time in a day to accomplish, what seems like, anything!

The problem is...  Much of it is work-related.  Much of it does have to get done.  And the biggest problem?  I WANT to do it!  Grrr...  It's easy to talk about priorities and only biting off what we want to chew - or have to chew...  But what do you say to the person that gets off-kilter doing stuff they ARE passionate about?  That's my problem.

I worked really long days all week last week.  Friday is supposed to be my day off, but we had a prayer vigil starting at church Saturday morning - so I went in for a few hours to set up prayer stations, organize the people who would be "working" the event, sending reminders, etc.  I worked at least 6 hours...  Uff da.  I was tired and a little annoyed...  But I still LIKED doing it. 

Then, Saturday I went with a family and some kids to the ski hill all day.  So much fun.  Technically, I was working that whole time - but it was too much fun to be sad about working on a Saturday.  I love the kids and the families, my hubby got to come with, and I made a new friend in the chalet - so it was a good day!  I left there, went home for supper, then headed back to church for 4 hours to work at the prayer vigil.  It was a 13 hour day - on my day off.

Today, I woke up early and headed to church to clean up after the vigil, taught Confirmation, attended worship, attended meetings, talked to people and did the usual church staff member "stuff."  I'm usually at church on Sundays for about 3 hours.  Today?  Five.

I was supposed to go to a Toddler Playdate this afternoon to meet some of the other younger couples of the church.  But I got home from worship, put on my sweats, and curled up on the couch with a blanket.  We turned on the Olymipcs and I was asleep in no time!  At two o'clock my phone rang.  The playdate was canceled due to the guests of honor having a sick kid.  You wanna know how tired and relieved I was?  I didn't even say, "Ohhh...  Poor kid. I hope she feels better."  Oh no.  I laughed and said, "Oh, good!  I was really enjoying the couch and my blanket!"  Ha ha ha.  Granted, I was not talking to the sick child's parent...  and the other person on the phone seemed a little relieved, too. But, I still felt like a horrible person when I hung up the phone!

I used to be really good at only biting off what I could chew... I need to find my way back to that.  I need to take care of myself, spend time with the hubby, and feed my own soul so that I can be the person I want to be.  I need to give myself rest and fun and relaxation - so that I can share my joy with others. 

I'm working on that.  So if I say, "no" to you in the near future...  It's not that I don't love you.  I just need a little space.  I think this challenge for myself works well during the season of Lent...  "What will I pick up?  And what will I put down?" so that I can grow in my faith, in my relatonships, and in peace and joy... 

Do you face this challenge?  How do you handle it?  Enquiring minds want to know!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A successful 24 hour prayer vigil!  (50 people prayed during their turns over 24 hours!)
2.  Lots of good feedback about meaningful experiences during the vigil.
3.  A great discussion in Confirmation!
4.  The joy of coming home and knowing I have no where else to go that day!
5.  The dog being overjoyed that we were home!
6.  Knowing I have tomorrow completely off of work!  Woo-hoo!
7.  Making gorgonzola-bacon burgers on the grill tonight! 
8.  Our dog playing "queen of the hill" with her squirrel toy!  Ha ha ha.  (We have a Somali family that lives across the street...  The mom told her young sons that our dog "wasn't right" because she likes to play in the snow!  HA!)
9.  A new episode of "Brothers and Sisters."  Yes - we took a break from the Olympics...
10.  Trader Joe's mini peanut butter cups...  Addicting.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Photo Hunt: Cuddly

Any self-respecting dog, caught in a pink doggie-snuggie, needs a cuddle!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Spending the day at Afton Alps with some kids and adults from church - so fun!
2.  Getting to actually SEE my hubby snowboard (for the first time, I think!).
3.  Vanilla Lattes. 
4.  Making a new friend in the chalet and talking for 5 hours straight!
5.  Getting to watch the Special Olympians on the ski hills - and their medal ceremony.
6.  A beauitful day!
7.  Having a quick, but delicious dinner at home before heading to church.
8.  Our church's 24 Hour Prayer Vigil is happening - so cool!
9.  My 40 minutes in the sanctuary tonight.  So peaceful.
10.  A hubby who supports me and makes me wonderful breakfasts when I have to work ALL weekend!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Finley!

Today is my niece, Finley's, second birthday!  Woo-hoo!  She's fiesty and fun, stubborn and silly - and quite the little Alaskan!  Here's some fun pictures of Fin from the past year:
We love you, Fin!  And we're sending love and blessings to you today!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Warm-er weather in Minnesota! 
2.  My sister Em, and her sweet voicemails.
3.  My niece, Fin! 
4.  Birthdays - so cool to have a day celebrated just for you!
5.  Speaking of birthdays - Happy Birthday, Diane!
6.  A yummy new recipe - seafood pasta with scallops.  Yum.
7.  The hubby did the grocery shopping.
8.  Dawn and all her help today!
9.  A little wine...
10.  A relaxing evening...

Thursday, February 18, 2010


"What do you think are your talents, your authentic gifts?  Are you using them in your work, your life, right now?
If you could have 10 other career choices, what would they be, who would you be?
What was one of your 'real' moments of success?  What really happened before that photo was taken of you holding your trophy?
Joseph Campbell spoke of 'following your bliss.'  What is your bliss?  What activity makes you glow, makes the hours slip away, makes you lose track of time?"
--Sarah Ban Breathnach, "Something More"

These are the questions I'll be pondering today...  I'll come back and answer them tonight.  What about you?  What is your talent, your authentic gift, your bliss?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Cold OJ.
2.  The hubby bringing me dinner at work.
3.  Getting to watch Grey's Anatomy for the first time since before Christmas!
4.  Evan L. winning men's figure skating.  So fun to watch!
5.  Yummy muffins at work to celebrate Diane's birthday.
6.  My new prayer book...  So cool.
7.  Sharing frustrations.
8.  Linda's out of the hospital!
9.  The dog is really cute right now...
10.  Sleep.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yummy Wednesday - Buttered Rosemary Rolls

Ooooo La La.  I had been eyeing this recipe on Pioneer Woman's blog for weeks...  Unsure of the rosemary part (I'm not usually a big fan of herb-y things).  Then my parents made them.  They sent me a picture on my phone of an empty skillet.  The whole pan was devoured in one sitting. 
That was it!  It was time.  The hubby and I made them with my grandma's Beef Stroganoff.  Oh dear Lord.  I think I could survive on these rolls alone.

They're addicting.  They're fabulous.  And now, they're yours, too!

Buttered Rosemary Rolls

You'll need:
A package of frozen, unbaked dinner rolls (We used Rhode's in the orange bag.)
Regular, salted, butter - melted
Fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped (or we used dried, and it worked just fine)
Coarse sea salt

To make:
Spray a small iron skillet with cooking spray (or coat with olive oil). Place frozen rolls in the skillet, leaving plenty of room for rising. Cover and allow to rise for several hours. 

After rising, brush rolls with melted butter.
Sprinkle on chopped rosemary. Brush with additional butter. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake according to roll package directions (usually 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes), until rolls are a deep golden brown on top.

Serve skillet on the table.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Ash Wednesday. 
2.  Giving up tv in the mornings.  A better way of life, for me.
3.  Homemade wheat toast.
4.  Pastor Penny, Diane, and I marked each other with ashes this morning.  So nice.
5.  Getting devotional readings through email.  Nifty.
6.  Sitting with the hubby at the Ash Wed. service.
7.  The hubby carrying my backpack to the car for me - and then up the stairs at home.  Too cute.
8.  The dog's silly antics while we tried to watch the Olympics.
9.  Great night for watching!  Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White get golds!
10.  A cup of hot cocoa before bed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Stories

"Everybody is a story.  When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories.  We don't do that so much anymore.  Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time.  It is the way the wisdom gets passed along.  The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.  Despite the awesome powers of technology many of us still do not live very well.  We may need to listen to each other's stories once again...

"...Real stories take time.  We stopped telling stories when we started to lose that sort of time, pausing time, reflecting time, wondering time.  Life rushes us along and few people are strong enough to stop on their own.  Most often, something unforeseen stops us and it is only then we have the time to take a seat at life's kitchen table.  To know our own story and tell it.  To listen to other people's stories.  To remember that the real world is made of just such stories.

"Until we stop ourselves or, more often, have been stopped , we hope to put certains of life's events "behind us" and get on with our living.  After we stop we see that certain of life's issues will be with us for as long as we live.  We will pass through them again and again, each time with a new story, each time with a greater understanding, until they become indistinguishable from our blessings and our wisdom.  It's the way life teaches us how to live."
--Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., from "Kitchen Table Wisdom"

I'm not very far into this book yet - but I'm loving it.  Thanks, Carol, for lending it to me!  (I think I'm going to have to order my own...  I keep getting out the high-lighter and remembering it's not mine!)

I've had the chance to listen to some great stories in the past week - from a friend watching cockroaches as entertainment when in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, to hearing about faith in healing, to new love stories...  I hope I remember to take the time this week to hear many more!

Do you have a favorite story to tell or hear?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Waking up early - without the alarm!
2.  Productive meetings.
3.  A phone call from the hubby this afternoon - he had a great helicopter ride and landed safe and sound!
4.  Book group - so many more stories to hear.  A great group of women.
5.  The worry of parents.  Thanks, Mom and Dad for worrying about me.  While I sometimes get annoyed - I know it's because you love me! 
6.  Also, my parents for letting us make mistakes and learn from them while we were growing up.  I think that's how you learn to cope with life and I'm thankful for that.
7.  Beth H's comment tonight - "Worry is a lot like complaining.  If you don't like complaining, why is needless worry ok?"  So true!  I'm done needlessly worrying...  Maybe I should give it up for Lent!
8.  Men's figure skating - I like the energy.
9.  The kringla cookies turned out great!  Yum.
10.  The hubby made Chipotle Mac for dinner. Mmm....

Monday, February 15, 2010


Gotta love music!  I totally was not in the mood to workout, but knew I better...  So I put on the ipod, and got busy.  Fortunately, it was a GREAT music day!

Here's some of what made it so fun:

Baby, I Love You - Aretha Franklin
Blessed - Brett Dennen
Shout Out Loud - Amos Lee
Sweet Pea - Amos Lee
32 Flavors - Ani DiFranco
Banana Pancakes - Jack Johnson
Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz
Like a Prayer - Madonna
Not Coming Home - Maroon Five
I Feel Lucky - Mary Chapin Carpenter
Cecilia - Simon and Garfunkel
They're On to Me - Ari Hest

All good songs - check them out! 

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Having the hubby home!
2. Strawberry Empanadas for breakfast - on a MONDAY!
3.  Getting together birthday presents for my niece and sister.
4.  A newly organized pantry.
5.  A great workout.
6.  Clean sheets for the bed!
7.  The Olympics.  So fun to watch.
8.  Quiet.
9.  Loving a wide variety of music!
10.  Making "Kringla" - a Norwegian cookie my Grandma always made...  I'm determined to learn how to make them well!  I'm getting there...

Sunday, February 14, 2010


"Prosperity depends more on wanting what you have than having what you want."
--Geoffrey F. Abert

"But we can all learn that happiness is a matter of perspective, and when we change our views about what prosperity really means and how it makes us feel we might even break through to a new kind of happiness, one in which we already have everything we need."
--Mina Parker, from "Less is More"

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Valentines Day.  What's so horrible about telling people you love them?
2.  All the ladies at church wearing red!
3.  Pastor Penny was fiesty and fun in worship today!
4.  A great lunch after church - we raised money for my friend, Beth's, student who lost their home in a fire a few weeks ago.  I think a lot of people donated - so cool to be part of a generous community!
5.  A nice long walk in the fresh snow with the hubby and the dog.
6.  My African violet is doing great!
7.  Deep moisture therapy lotion.  Much needed!
8.  So many people at church signing up for the 24-hour prayer vigil!  I'm impressed!
9.  Back rubs.
10.  Vosges chocolates.  Mmmm....

Saturday, February 13, 2010


"...But there is no meaning in facts.  As a physician, and as a human being, I live in a world of stories.  Stories are not replicable because our lives are unique.  Our uniqueness is what gives us value and meaning.  Yet in the telling of stories we also learn what makes us similar, what connects us all, what helps us transcend the isolation that seperates us from each other and from ourselves.

"Stories are the language of community...

"...Listening to stories can also be healing.  A deep trust of life often emerges when you listen to other people's stories.  You realize you're not alone; you're traveling in wonderful company.  Ordinary people living ordinary lives often are heroes..."
--Dean Ornish, M.D., from the forward in "Kitchen Table Wisdom"

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Being awoken to breakfast in bed! 
2.  Strawberry empanadas.  Mmmm....
3.  Curling up with a book in bed.  Lovely.
4.  Hoar frost on our trees this morning.  Beautiful.  (The hubby took these pictures this morning...  Pretty, aren't they?)
5.  A trip to REI.  Fun fun fun.  Gotta love gift cards!
6.  A new bread recipe in the breadmaker - whole wheat.  Makes great toast!
7.  Watching Olympics.  So fun.
8.  Making homemade, all-natural, vanilla pudding. 
9.  2 full days of NO work!  Woo-hoo!
10.  Hearing more of the fascinating stories of people at church...  Love it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Fave Five - February 12th

This week's favorite five things:

1.  Watching 20 hot air balloons fly over the St. Croix River Valley!  I almost forgot about the "Hot Air Affair" going on last weekend... then we were out doing errands and happened to see a balloon far off in the distance.  I quick asked the hubby to drive over the bridge to Hudson, WI.  And, being the sweet guy that he is, he did.  It was beautiful and wonderful!  Check out the pictures from my cell phone here.

2.  Hanging out at home with the hubby for the Super Bowl.  We had so much fun, cuddled up in our sweats, eating delicious food, and laughing at the stupid commercials!  It was nice and relaxing.  A good night.

3.  Meeting our friend, Barb, for happy hour downtown.  She got a new job after being laid off over a year ago - so we were celebrating!  Then, the hubby and I went to a favorite pub for their Irish Traditional Music sessions...  But apparently we missed something somewhere... there was no live music...  But we still had a fun time night - good drinks, good conversation...  Love it.

4.  A fun phone call from my sister in Alaska.  We spent about half and hour talking about food and recipes - so funny!  We laughed, compared our favorite cookbooks, and even discovered we've been making some of the same recipes lately!  Too funny. 

5.  Our Valentines Date tonight!  Plans to go out fell through, but the hubby made me crab legs for dinner!  That's a winner right there!  Then, we curled up and watched the Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Awesome.  I loved the special effects, the punk dancers, and the slam poet. Loved it.  Good night home with the hubby!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A day off.  Competely off. 
2.  Naps.  And lots of them!
3.  A good workout.
4.  A good hair day.
5.  Crab legs.  Yum.
6.  Nilla wafers with pudding and bananas.  Double yum.
7.  Creativity and innovation.  A beautiful thing.
8.  An opening ceremony that explores all kinds of elements of their culture - not just the classical and elegant.
9.  Oh, I forgot!  Cornbread and honey butter with the crab legs.  Oh yeah.
10.  A lovely hubby.  We always have fun together - even sitting home.  Love it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Memory Box Thursday - February 11, 2010

Here's another glimpse into my past as I clean out my gigantic "Memory Box" in my closet...  Little peeks into what my life has been about... and why I am the way I am!  Ha ha ha.

Here we go!

My little yellow duckie.  This tiny plush toy was a prize in a McDonald's happy meal, oh, probably 10 years ago.  I was visiting my boyfriend (future hubby) at his park where he interned for an entire summer - and I got a migraine.  It was probably the first time he saw me with a REALLY bad migraine and he didn't know how to help or how to make me feel better.  He took very good care of me that weekend.  And when it was time for me to leave, this little duckie was on the steering wheel, with a note saying he was my headache good luck charm - he would ward off migraines for me.  So cute.
A funny little angel.  She was my Secret Santa gift from a co-worker in the dorms.  She's meant to be a guardian angel.  I was surprised the person who gave it to me would have anything to do with angels.  Now, I usually bring her out at Christmas...

A Blue Ribbon!  Probably the only blue ribbon I have gotten - or will get - in athletics.  It was "Field Day" at John Clem Elementary School.  I think I was in 5th grade.  I don't even remember what event it was for.  But it was a BLUE ribbon and that's all that mattered!

A newspaper clipping about my crush being in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."    Ha ha ha.  In 9th grade I had a huge crush on Bill Sather.  TOTAL crush.  He was a senior.  He didn't know that I existed.  And that was fine.  But I still think he was the best amateur "Joseph" ever.  Wonder where he is today?

A postcard from my friend, Emily.  This cracked me up!  It's from when she took a trip to Montana in high school.  Her review of Yellowstone?  "It smells funny."  But she was quick to note there were lots of gorgeous men!  Ha ha ha.  Her "PS" said, "If you go to Menard's, say hi to 'what's his butt' for me."  Funniest part about that?  She's now married to "what's his butt."  Love it.

A letter from my high school friend, Kathy.  Kathy was a friend that was involved in Peer Counseling with me.  We were always talking about other people's problems - and were used to sharing our "downs" with each other.  Most people at school probably didn't even realize we were close friends - we never socialized in the same circles...  But this letter was an acknowledgement that our friendship was real - not just based on circumstances.  We were the kind of friends who could be there, even in high school, when things "weren't ok."  Everyone needs people like that in their lives... especially in high school!

A birthday card from my Grandparents, for my 18th birthday.    It's always good to find those words from my Grandma now.  I miss her lots.  This note was full of how much joy I brought them, how proud they were, and even some encouragement about my spiritual growth.  I feel like she's still here when I read her handwriting...  (And, a note about the $15 she sent for a "little spending money"!  Ha ha ha.  So cute.)

Daily notes from my family for a mission trip.  Each envelope tells me which day to open it.  So funny.  It must be from my senior year trip to Puerto Rico...  There's lots of "adios" at the end of the notes - and each note asks if I'm tan yet...  A note from my youngest sister, who was probably four years old (dictated to Mom, of course), telling me that my hamster missed me and that Mom was happy she hadn't escaped from her cage!  Ha ha ha.  Lots of prayers and "miss yous" - I know those notes always meant the world to me on those trips.  I always opened them as soon as I woke up!

Some drawings from my sketchbook.  Drawings done when I was in junior high.  I had a teacher in California that taught us how to use pastels, use shading, draw trees and leaves, and add depth to our drawings.  So lots of my sketches involved those skills.  They're pretty basic...  But it's still fun to look back on.  I think the teacher's name was Mrs. Langer.  I really liked her - I think she was one of the first teachers I had that pointed out my strengths instead of my weaknesses.  All teachers should do that more...
My first novel.  The same teacher had us write our first novel in 6th grade.  Chapters, illustrations, reviews, copyright, and author notes.  Yikes.  Mine was about a girl who was home alone, and someone was trying to break in.  She had to use her wit and fast-thinking to get out of the troublesome situation!  Ha ha ha.  It was all of 20 pages...  And the COVER.  Oh Lord, the cover.  Purple, green, and orange squiggly things.  This material was meant to be my "jams" when those crazy long shorts were in style.  Mom was going to make me some...  Well, that never happened.  So the cover of my book, it was!

Oh dear.  This is quite the experience.  There is a lot of laughing when I pull these things out.  That's for sure!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Holding onto letters and cards.  I always think it's stupid to throw them in a box...  But what great memories when you go back to read them years later.
2. Feeling caught up at work.
3.  Getting to pray with Norma on the phone yesterday.  Such an honor.
4.  The last night of our "Way of Pilgrimage" Bible Study.  It was hard to come to an end...  We may do it again in the spring!
5.  Using our candlelit sanctuary as a "labyrinth" during a prayer exercise - so meaningful!
6.  Coming home to start the weekend!
7.  A phone call on my way to work, from a former youth group kid - asking for dating advice.  Ha!  So cute!
8.  The hubby was supposed to go up in a helicopter to do a deer count - but it got postponed due to a musk ox at the zoo giving birth!  Yikes!  You don't hear that excuse at work very often!
9.  A note from a friend in Colorado saying she'll be stopping by on Good Friday!  Very cool!
10.  Valentines date tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yummy Wednesday - Italian Beef Drip Sandwiches

Hallelujah and Amen!  You gotta try these.  I'm still eating leftovers a few days later - and can't get enough.  Pioneer Woman hits it out of the ball park - er, stadium? - again!  We made these for Super Bowl Sunday...  So great!

Italian Drip Beef Sandwiches

You'll need:
1 whole Beef Chuck Roast, 2.5-4 pounds
1 can Beef Consomme or Beef Broth
3 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Salt
1/4 cup water
1/2 jar (16 oz) Pepperoncini Peppers, with juice
Buttered, toasted deli rolls

To make:
Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot or dutch over.  Stir lightly to combine seasoning with the liquid.
Cover and bake in a 275 degree oven for 5-6 hours, or until meat is fork-tender and falling apart.  (If meat is not yet tender, return to oven for 30 minutes intervals until tender!)
Remove from oven.  With two forks, completely shred all meat, leaving no large chunks behind.
Serve immediately, or keep warm over a simmer on the stove.

*  To make in a crock pot, combine all ingredients and set on "low" for 6 hours.
**If you make it a day ahead of time, then store in the refrigerator overnight - you can remove the hardened fat from the top before reheating.  A great way to drastically reduce the fat in the recipe!

Serve on buttered, toasted rolls.  Top with cheese and melt under the broiler if desired.  Serve with juices from the pot.  (And I like a few more banana peppers on the sandwich, straight out of the jar...  Perfection!)


Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Prayer.
2.  My job.
3.  Health.
4.  Ideas.
5.  Support.
6.  An early end to the day.
7.  Friends getting new jobs - hooray!
8.  Giant cozy booths at restaurants - the kind you sink into!
9.  Free parking in the city!
10.  Great conversation with the hubby.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stand Out

"There is more here than meets the eye."
--Lady Murasaki

"Starting today, if you can't be with the body you love, love the body you're with...

"Embrace the lines that stare back, the parts that sag in the middle or stick out where you think they shouldn't, the hair that never keeps a curl or never loses it...

"We're not meant to fit in.  We're meant to stand out.  As Marianne Williamson says, 'We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?  [But] actually,' she goes on, 'who are you NOT to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  [You] were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within [you].'"
--Sarah Ban Breathnach,
from her book "Something More"

Isn't it funny how taking care of yourself seems so hard, so inconvenient, so horrible?  But when you do it, you feel so much better, so good?  If we feel good - why don't we keep it up?  Why do we let things that make us feel gross have priority?  I keep asking myself that question - because I keep giving way to stuff that makes me feel gross.  And I don't know why...

A few weeks ago, the hubby and I watched Oprah when they were talking about where our food comes from (antibiotics and chemicals used in farming, the horrible mistreatment of animals, the idea of buying local and organic).  It was good stuff.  (I just mis-typed "god stuff" - maybe a Fruedian slip?)  We haven't read the books or the seen the movies she talked about yet (though I would like to), but we have already started paying attention to eating more whole foods (non-processed foods, no chemicals or preservatives).  So far, that part is going really well!  Switching to all organic or grass-fed animal products may be a little harder - and much more expensive...  But we're working on it...  And I do think it's worth a little extra money...  As we learn to plan our meals better and use up all left-overs, it almost averages out the extra cost...

And I think I feel better.  I haven't had near as many headaches as I normally do (even when I've had a very tiring and stressful week). 

My hubby is learning to dehydrate foods - what started as an experiment for backpacking trips is going to come in handy this summer when we can load up on fresh food from the farmers' markets and dehydrate or freeze it for next winter!  I'm learning to bake breads - it's fun to know exactly what goes into my bread!  And we're planning recipes to try canning this year...  Whoa.  This is getting REAL domestic. 

(This is all good and dandy for our health and well-being...  AND great research for when we have our Bed and Breakfast someday...  There's always more to the story, right?  Motivation.)

So, we're working on eating better and I've started working out again.  I'm starting out slow, I have to learn how to add it into my new work schedule.  But, I'm at about 4 days a week, 45 minutes, elliptical, weights, and stretching. 

It's time to get healthy again.  Time to appreciate the body I have.  Time to take care of it, so when health crisises do arise (and they will), I'll be ready to fight them off.  And besides, why waste life feeling tired and sluggish - when I know by changing a couple of habits, I can feel good?!

Time to get on the ball! 
(Literally...  my balance ball awaits...)

PS:  I thought of another Six Word Memoir...  Life is good.  Best to come.  (Seems only appropriate, doesn't it?)  Oooo - or:  Rough start.  Seeking balance and simplicity.  Ha ha ha, or:  Life is a gift.  Stop complaining.  Ok.  Enough.  Ha ha ha.

Things I am thankful for:

1.  My workout is getting easier!
2.  Advil - good for aches and pains.
3.  Claritin - good for sinus problems.
4.  An unexpected day to work from home.
5.  Penzey's Mint Hot Cocoa.
6.  My thick, warm sweater from Ireland (that I bought at Ragstock!).
7.  The snow looks beautiful!
8.  My African violet is in full bloom!  So pretty!
9.  LOST tonight!
10.  My ipod's playlist of workout music!  Keeps me going!
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