Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I forgot how much I loved this poem...  Enjoy!

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Small reminders that we are wonderful just as we are.
2.  Cleaning and organizing rooms at church - with 2 awesome women!
3.  Progress.
4.  A nap in the church library (still not feeling well).
5.  Catching up with friends.
6.  A nice drive home at dusk.
7.  Watching American Idol.
8.  The hubby and nephew telling me all about rock climbing (like two little kids!) and skateboarding.
9.  Poetry...  Why don't I read it more?
10.  A hot bath.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


My cold is in full swing...  I feel as though I've fallen into a vortex.  Ick.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Getting a bunch done at work and leaving early.
2.  Hand sanitizer.
3.  Cold drugs.
4.  Kleenex.
5.  Hot tea.
6.  People who say, "You look like crap.  Maybe you should go home."
7.  A 2 hour nap.
8.  A decision to stay home from a meeting.
9.  Watching "The Voice" in my pjs, on the couch, with my nephew and I guessing what the judges are going to do.
10. Hearing about an excellent prayer session at church for all the hurting people in our congregation.  (Wishing I was there, but glad to know it happened.)

Monday, April 25, 2011


Today was an unusual day to be sure!

It's my day off, after the busy-ness of Holy Week.  And our 14 year-old nephew, Brandon, is visiting for the week.

The hubby had to work today, so Brandon and I slept in (til 10am - awesome!).  Then, over breakfast, we discussed what a beautiful day it was turning into and decided to take the dog for a nice long walk. 

On our nice long walk, we started talking about all kinds of fun things - like science and animals, places we'd like to visit or live, and what we like to learn about...  In the coarse of the conversation, I asked if he'd like to go to Como Zoo that afternoon?

Of course!  So we packed a a picnic lunch and headed to the zoo.  We played with the giraffes, seals, orangutans, artic foxes, and many others...  Walked all over the place...  Shared our lunch by the monkey cages...  and had a great time.

Sounds like a productive day, right?

That's just the beginning!

When the hubby came home, we headed to Mall of America to ride the amusement park rides!  Uff-da!  With unlimited wristbands and a Monday night - you can get a LOT of riding in!  (I had to bum out after an hour and a half...  I was getting a head cold and needed to let my brains find their equilibrium again.  But the boys kept riding for another hour and a half!) 

Funny side story...  On the spinning rollercoaster, we were about to get into our 4-person car when a little kid came out of nowhere and jumped in with us.  He couldn't have been more than 5 years old and as I looked around I realized he didn't have anyone with him!  I ended up making sure he had his seatbelt on and the lapbars tightend... and he talked my ear off the entire ride (including warning me that he would scream like a little girl - I loved him on the spot!).  We rode this ride three times - with him.   He just loved it and wanted me, his new friend, with him each time...  We finally had to go do some other things, so I asked where his family was and he said, "I don't know!  See ya!" and away he ran!  I was horrified that someone wasn't with him - he was so little and so trusting....  A little while later, on another ride, my hubby ended up helping another kid up into the seat and with the lap bars...  I kind of chuckled.  Where would the kids of this park be without the hubby and I?

Anyway...  after hours of riding rides, Brandon decided he wanted to try sushi.  (A boy after my own heart.)  So we went to Tiger Sushi and gave him the full experience - even sitting at the sushi bar so he could watch them make the rolls.  A very fun experience - and I'm proud to say - He liked it!

And yes, we finished the night with a little gelato...  (Which was also a success, seeing as though our nephew is not a big ice cream eater.)

An unusually busy and crazy day - but, oh, so fun!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Sunshine.
2.  A lovely walk with Brandon and the dog.
3.  Fun conversations.
4.  Monkeys and Giraffes.  They made us laugh.
5.  Naps.
6.  Reasons to spend an evening at the amusement park.  Loved it.
7.  Cute little kids that make me giggle.
8.  Brandon's willingness to try new things.
9.  The boys letting me tag along.
10.  A full day = a good night's sleep!  (and Nyquil)

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Easter - a day for many festive tables!

I started the day with our Sunrise (ahem, 8:30am) service at church.  When we walked into the sanctuary, the black drapes from Maundy Thursday still covered the altar, communion table, lecturns, communion rail, cross, and baptismal font...  It was an empty, dreary sight to walk into and our pastor reminded us in her greeting that the first Easter morning, indeed, did start out this way.  The ladies walked to the tomb, still in their grief, ready to care for Jesus' dead body...  We sang the hymn, "Up From the Grave He Arose" as the black shrouds were replaced with white linens and white lilies and pink azaleas filled the space!  Such a transformation - to be celebrated with a communion meal...  A table all were invited to.

After the second service, the fellowship hall was filled with tables of families and friends sharing in a delightful brunch!  Kids were running around searching for Easter eggs, parents laughing and taking pictures, friends catching up...  Tables full of joy and laughter to celebrate the day!

Finally, around 12:30pm, I got to come home and take my post-church nap.  Ahhh...

And then get ready to fill another table!  The hubby and his nephew came home from Wisconsin and my parents came over to share Easter dinner with us.  I dyed Easter eggs and hid them for the group - just for fun!  Then we sat down to enjoy a simple, but nice meal together.  (And a little "Apples to Apples" action afterwards!  Nothing like a little game and laughter to end the evening!)

Empty tables...  Sad and dreary, reminding us of a loss.  Communion Tables...  dressed and set, welcoming all who will come, to remember our Savior.  Community tables...  crammed and noisy, full of life and activity.  Family tables...  warm and cozy, nourishing in so many ways.

Today I am thankful for:

1.  A stark reminder of how Easter really would have felt at sunrise...
2.  Beautiful flowers!
3.  Heartfelt communion moments.
4.  Easter egg hunts - and excited kids!  (especially the ones who put their buckets on their heads...  or are the same size as their bucket!)
5.  Candy.  Especially Reese's peanut butter eggs and Jelly Bellys...
6.  Hugs from kids who had moved away and were visiting... 
7.  The nephew picking us to spend his spring break with!
8.  A family dinner.
9.  Apples to Apples.  I love this game!
10.  Crawling into bed after a long day....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Smiles

If you don't smile while watching this, something is definately wrong with you.

I couldn't stop smiling, and laughing at these adorable little kids.

Stay with it til the end - trust me.

Happy Saturday!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Notes from Prayer Vigil participants.
2. All the volunteers that made the vigil happen.
3. Time alone at church - taking down and setting up. So peaceful.
4. People in good moods at the grocery store.
5. The funny woman I met in the pink hat and rain boots.
6. Jelly Bellies.
7. Dying Easter eggs - and loving the "marbled" look!
8. A clean house... and the table set.
9. Tylenol PM. I WILL get a good night's sleep tonight!
10. A quick call from the hubby - just to say "goodnight."

Friday, April 22, 2011


Rain.  Appropriate on Good Friday, isn't it?  A rainy, dreary day.

I spent my morning setting up our sanctuary for a Prayer Vigil - we have 30+ people who signed up to come in for 20 minutes at a time to sit in the sanctuary by themselves or with family members... and pray.

Once again, the sanctuary is dimly lit.  The black draping was left on the altar tables from last night.  Candles are lit and prayer stations (that allow people to pray in whatever way is comfortable for them) are set up around the room. 

And let's face it, as you take a seat on our sanctuary to pray on Good Friday - the stained glass window of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane certainly adds to the atmosphere.
I took my turn as soon as the room was set up... and then came home.  It's been interesting to watch the hours click by today - knowing who is in the sanctuary at any given time.  Knowing people are praying for themselves, loved ones, church members, the church, and the world....  It's a powerful feeling to be a part of this experience.

And all the while, it's been raining.  A sad day in the life of Christianity - remembering the dark hour of Christ's death.  But a powerful day, too...

It may be Friday now...

But Sunday's coming!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Dawn's help this morning.
2.  Being even more organized than I thought I was!
3.  Rain - not snow.
4.  Blooming daffodils.
5.  Eating an early dinner with the hubby before he left town for the weekend.
6.  Naps - I got up early today!
7.  The "Women of Country - Girls' Night Out" special - great music!
8.  Carrie Underwood's "How Great Thou Art" with Vince Gill - it actually made me teary-eyed!

9.  A quiet night at home.
10.  Our tax refund was FINALLY deposited today!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Today is Holy Thursday.  Our church celebrates this day with a Service of Darkness. 

We come into a slightly darkened sanctuary, sing some solemn hymns, hear a meditation, and share in communion.

Then, the readings of the Passion scriptures begin.  As they are read, the worship elements are removed from the sanctuary (the cross, the Bible, the candles, the decorations, etc) and black cloths are draped over the altars and lecturns.  A candle is extinguished and the lights dim further after each reading as the congregation sings a verse of "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?"

The service ends with the Christ candle being the only light in the room still lit.  The pastor walks it out of the room, to represent Christ's death... and then brings it back, to represent that God's love is always with us.

The room is left in complete darkness, but that one light... and silence.

Gradually, people get up and leave when they are ready.

It's beautiful.  Really beautiful.

As someone who works in the church - Holy Week is never really that Holy.  We're busy setting up, tearing down, coaching our helpers, making sure every detail is cared for...  It's hardly a quiet week.

And I often forget to remember what it is that we're remembering and celebrating.  I get caught up in the noise and details - and forget to experience the quiet...

And tonight, as I finally sat in a pew, at the end of the service...

The quiet settled in.

My eyes watered.  My shoulders relaxed.  My thoughts focused on one thing - the man that was Christ.  The man that taught me how to live.  That taught me faith, belief, and commitment.  The man that died on a cross for us to know God through Him.  Sacrifice, so that I could know life with God.

In a world that is so full of noise...  I need this quiet a little more often. 

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Remembering details.
2.  Helpers.
3.  Kids from church who helped with the service - they did great!
4.  A Holy moment.
5.  Serving communion.
6.  Going on an impromptu date with the hubby after the service.
7.  Finding out our tax refund is, indeed, on the way!
8.  Finding quick answers.
9.  Preparing for another quiet day - our Prayer Vigil - tomorrow.
10.  Looking forward to hosting Easter at my house!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Today I had a moment.  A moment when things seem so clear.

In realizing how many times in the last month or so, I've listened to other people talk about all the things they wish were different in their lives, all the things they wished they had, all the changes they wanted to make (but weren't willing to spend the energy to make them happen) - I had an epiphany.

I have plenty.

I love and am in love with my hubby.  I have a great family and wonderful friends.  I love my home (and look forward to the day we can buy a house - but are working to get there).  I love my job.  I have creative and fun hobbies; interests and activities that give me joy; and skills and talents that can be used to bring comfort and peace to those around me.  I have enough - and am blessed to be able to give some away.

Sure there are things about myself I'd like to improve... and I do need to spend more time and energy on those things.  But, these aren't things that make me feel "less than."  And they certainly aren't worth complaining about.

I have plenty.
Life is good.
In fact, it's pretty darn great.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  New cooking magazines!
2.  Getting lots of my busy work done!
3.  A leftover muffuletta sandwich for lunch!
4.  Coming home early.
5.  Making dinner for the hubby.
6.  Eating our lovely dinner - and watching American Idol.  Too funny.
7.  Seeing 3 bluebirds on our walk tonight!
8.  The dog's pure giddiness on our walk.
9.  Coming home to see one of our tents set up in the living room...  Hubby had someone coming to buy it.  (It made me sad to see it go - it was a good tent for us for the last several years...  We've had some funny stories on those trips!)
10.  Knowing, even when unexpected bills come, we can manage.  We have plenty.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


So, today was a day.  Not bad, not great - just bumming along, anxious for our book group to meet!  We only meet once a month now, and that just feels way too long!  We have so much to share now - what's going on in our lives, the highs and lows, what we felt about the book - and what we want to do about it... 

So in the midst of our meeting last night - enjoying some yummy rice krispie bars, laughing about all kinds of stuff...  The yoga instructer (you know the kind - cute, tiny, skinny, sweet-as-can-be) from the class next door came over to ask if she could close our door.  We were too loud.  And laughing too much.

She closed the door, and one of us said, "She can close the door, but I'm still going to laugh!"  Which, of course, made us all burst into not-so-quiet laughter!

Then, one of the other ladies started telling a more serious story about something in her life that relates to the very serious book we've been reading...  All of a sudden, all I could concentrate on was the odd noises coming from the other room...  Barking.  And really loud OHMs!

I was trying not to laugh during my friend's story...  But man, was that distracting!

Oh dear...  The conflict of having yoga and a crazy book group sharing the building at the same time...  It can be rather humorous!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Prayer.
2.  Resources.
3.  Laughter.
4.  Coming home for a quick dinner with the hubby.
5.  The book "Half the Sky."  Read it!
6.  My ipod.
7.  My Easter week has gotten a little quieter...  Gotta like that!
8.  The dog is learning to let me brush her teeth!  She's doing so good!
9.  It looks like the snow went south of us!  Woo-hoo!
10.  A documentary that was on PBS late tonight, called "Bag It" - about our use of plastic in the USA.  Really interesting!

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Orleans Food

Yum.  I've been craving one of my favorite kind of sandwiches for a couple of weeks now...  But there aren't many restaurants with it on the menu (around here, at least), so today I browsed the net til I found one that looked good.

And Wa-la!  Delish!
A muffuletta sandwich...  A New Orleans standby.  Salty, melty, doughy deliciousness...

I'll post the recipe later this week...  It's well worth sharing!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A quick roadtrip this morning to take Kayla back to school at Winona State.
2.  Seeing 5 eagles this morning, bunches of turkeys, and a hawk swooping in on jumping fish!
3.  4 hours in the car with great music!
4.  Unusual and funny decorating ideas.  (Ahem.  Kayla.)
5.  The hubby's home!
6.  Chatting about our weekends.
7.  Muffuletta sandwiches...  Fabulous.
8.  Finding everything I needed at the grocery store in one trip!
9.  A new recipe for Rice Krispie bars... 
10.  Heated car seats and an open moonroof...  Spring in MN.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


My little sister, Kayla, and I went to see the band, The Civil Wars today...  Wow.  Love them!  Love, love, love.
(Picture courtesy of CityPages.)

Here's a review that describes them very well, and here's two of their videos, "Barton Hollow" and "Falling."  (And heck, just for fun, here's their cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."  Awesome.)

I don't know what my life would be without music. It's playing morning, noon, and night.  At home, in the car, at work (sometimes), while I'm cooking, and on the elliptical.  And so many different kinds...  I just love how music can lift a mood, help you to just "be" in a mood, or can transform energy levels!  It tells stories, tugs on the heartstrings, builds confidence, and makes me smile...

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A packed church this morning!
2.  The children's choir sang - and they were AWESOME.
3.  My confirmation class.  They make me laugh.
4.  An afternoon with Kayla - very fun.
5.  An amazing concert.
6.  Chocolate banana malt ice cream cone at Grand Ol Creamery.  Yum.
7.  Talking to the hubby on the phone (he's out of town).  Miss him.
8.  Hot showers and sweatpants.
9.  Funny conversations.
10.  Music!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Today is a day for laughing...  Because if I don't laugh, I will cry.

Why you ask? 
Because of this:
Welcome to April in Minnesota.  It can really stink some years...

So, we laugh.

And then I go to my god-daughter, Elly's, 3rd birthday party!  Now, that can bring a smile to my face!

The minute I walked in the door, she came yelling, "Megan's here!"

Smile.  Laugh.  Feel loved.

She was surrounded by family and friends - and well aware of how adored and loved she is!  She played with each toy as it was opened (pleased as punch with them all!), she started the singing of Happy Birthday to herself, she paraded around with her new Duluth Pack, horsey, western hat, and golf clubs...  And had a ball!
(She also got a new Joe Mauer shirt!  Lucky girl!)

Elly gave me lots of laughs today...  What a joy to be in her life!  (Thanks, Em and Jeremy!)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Knowing the snow will melt quickly...
2.  Elly!
3.  All the family spoiling little Elly rotten.  Too cute.
4.  Super cute bee cupcakes!
5.  Loads of laundry DONE.
6.  The band, The Civil Wars.  LOVE them.
7.  The dog letting me brush her teeth...  Yeah, I know.  Not very exciting, but a huge improvement in our house!
8.  Reading my book in bed.
9.  I think our neighbors are moving... 
10. I saw another bluebird today!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Ok...  the saga continues.  Today, as I was out running errands, I had to wait for about 20 minutes at an appointment so I took my book with me.  Yep, you got it.  Still reading, "Half the Sky."

(I'm going to have to not finish it, I think.  It's costing me too much money.  And when the hubby comes home from his hiking weekend...  I'm gonna get scolded.)

So, today I was reading about the Congo in Africa.  About how rape is considered a weapon of war.  Women, daughters, little girls are raped - just because!  A 16 year-old boy soldier was quoted saying, "It's a soldiers right to rape girls."

Oh my Lord.  It made me want to puke.

The poor girls of the Congo...  They can barely leave their houses for fear of the inevitable.  And the police are of no help - if you report that you were raped... the police will likely rape you, too.

These girls are raped, beaten, tortured, and left for dead.  Broken in every way.

I want to puke.  Again.

So...  As I got to wondering how I could save a girl from the Congo...  I decided to log onto World Vision's website and do what I could for one girl.

I sponsored a child today.  Her name is Mete and she is 5 years old.  She was the only picture I saw with a smile - and I decided I would do what I could to keep her smiling.

She's considered a "Hope Child" on the site due to the horrible health conditions in the Congo...  HIV and AIDS are rampant (Gee, ya think?  Might have something to do with a culture of tolerating rape?!).  As of now her health is good...  But who knows what will happen down the road.  I'll be curious to get her information in a few weeks - to know if she has parents, siblings, or is an orphan...

I'm sure you'll be hearing stories about my kid, Mete, once in awhile...  If you have ideas on how to encourage her lovely smile - I'm open to them!  It seems like such a hard thing to do from halfway across the world...  I wish I could wrap her in my arms and protect her from all the evil in her world...

I'll be praying for her - will you, too?

(And I'm just kidding - I totally intend to finish this book, as much as it hurts to do so...)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Getting lots of chores done.
2.  Birthday presents for god-daughters. 
3.  4 of my microloans through have been fully financed already!  The ladies get to make some dreams come true!
4.  A clean house.
5.  A dreary day - good for getting things done inside.
6.  My house-finches are back!
7.  Cold pizza.
8.  Mete's smile.
9.  World Vision.  I've done a lot through them in the past - it's a great organization!
10.  Good music to dance to!  (While cleaning, of course...)
11.  I just saw this online - how awesome is she?!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jumping In

So, I've been sitting here, continuing to read the book "Half the Sky" (which I wrote about yesterday)...  And the wheels are turning.

The book is about the oppression of women all over the world - the slave trade, sex trafficking, rapes, assaults, women with no power, no respect, no medical care... and the list goes on.  But the chapter I just finished reading talks about the fact that when women are educated, when they have skills, when they have something to be proud of - they become more assertive.  They stand up for themselves.  They fight back.

So, I'm thinking...  How can I help young women on the other side of the globe find that confidence to fight back?  What would give them self-worth in their own environment?

And then I remembered  It's a microloan organization that connects individuals or small groups of people in poverty-stricken parts of the world - with those of us sitting at our computers with a credit or debit card within reach...  These young women can start an entire business for $300 and make a living selling fruit or rice - and I can help make that happen by giving $25 at a time, right from my couch!

I can help these women find respect for themselves and value in who they are and what they are capable of doing - by simply giving them a loan...

So why not?!

I jumped in with both feet tonight!  I put down the book (I needed a break anyway!) and started up the computer...

I donated toward four loans in Cambodia (where many of the stories in the book are taking place so far), one loan in Pakistan (in the town where part of "A Thousand Splendid Suns" took place), and one in Afghanistan.  A couple of the loans will help families repair or add on to their homes, a couple will help start businesses, and a couple will help with transportation to and from work.

It may not be much.  But it's something.  It's a start.  And it's something I could do without a whole lot of thought...

I'll be curious what bigger ideas come out of the discussion at book group on Tuesday...  From the notes I've been receiving, I think more wheels are a-turnin!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Getting to say good-bye to the hubby before he left for a long weekend.
2.  Getting a bunch of putzy work done today.
3.  A canceled meeting - I needed the break.
4.  Pizza.
5.  Challenge.
6.  Having plenty.
7.  Being able to give.
8.  Confidence.
9.  Self-worth. 
10.  Ideas.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I'm reading the book, "Half the Sky" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  It was the pick for our book group this month, after it was highly recommended by several different people (and by all the rave reviews online!).
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Vintage)

The book is about the oppression of women all over the world - and is a call to action to help.

Wow.  It's horrible and sad and depressing...  With bits and pieces of light in the individual girls' stories.

But Wow.

Tonight, as the winds were howling, and I was antsy and couldn't sleep - I decided to start reading this book (seeing as though I have to be ready to discuss it next Tuesday!).  I read from 12-2am.

The winds died down ever so slightly about that time, and I was finally able to fall asleep...

And you know what?  I dreamt about being enslaved and trapped!  It was a horrible dream...

Weird.  I don't think I've ever read a book that made such an impact that I later dreamed about it...

I have a long ways to go - I'm only about a third into it...  And I'm a bit worried what my sleep will be like throughout the weekend.

It's not an easy book to read.  Many of us already know the kinds of things that are going on in our world (far away from our cozy homes).  But it's an important book.  It should be uncomfortable to read.  It should jar us enough to toss and turn at night. 

It should make us want to do something.  The question is what?
And I think this book will have some great ideas...  I'll let you know when I finish!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Excedrin.
2.  Bluebirds.
3.  Easter baskets.
4.  People who volunteer time to make others smile.
5.  People who make fabulous soup dinners for the volunteers!
6.  Fudge-y brownies.
7.  Good music on the drive home.
8.  Hubby got his wish (for a backpacking weekend).
9.  The smell of campfire.
10.  American Idol...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Healthy Eating

As we continue to strive to eat in healthier ways...  We've decided to try yet another new thing!

We're subscribing to True Cost Farms for our meat supply this summer! 

"The fine flavor and texture of our products is a result of our focus on quality.

We raise a variety of rare, slow-growing breeds, selected for their deep flavors and excellent health. They grow in natural living conditions and are treated with care and respect. We actively manage their environment, regularly rotating the animals to fresh fields of pasture and ensuring their access to the most nutritious feed possible. We carefully and artfully process the meat with superior taste in mind.

"We chose the name True Cost Farm because the price of our products reflects the complete cost of raising food according to the principles of true farming. Most food in this country comes from conventional factory farms, which focus on quantity, not quality. They produce food that's deceptively cheap, but there are many hidden costs. Their practices have dire and expensive consequences for individual and public health, the quality of our air, water and soil, animal well-being, and much more.

"At True Cost Farm, you pay for what is true and what is right – fine food, sustainably raised."


Last year, we experimented with the farmers' markets, picking berries, growing some herbs and tomatos ourselves, and canning and freezing produce...  This year we're on to discovering new ways to buy and use meat!

It seems the less I buy at the grocery store these days... the happier I am!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A quiet day of work.
2.  Getting on the same page.
3.  Lunch with Eric and Penny.
4.  The beautiful flowers at the church, leftover from a funeral (of a wonderful woman!) - they're aroma fills the church!  I love it.
5.  My black squirrel has started visiting my office window again.
6.  Funny Faecbook statuses.
7.  Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
8.  Placing our order for True Cost Farms!
9.  Making a yummy fettucine alfredo for dinner.
10.  Windows still open at 8:30pm...  Love it!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Grilling Out

Today was our first Grilling Out of the season!  Woo-hoo!
Gotta love these first few warm days...  When you go for a walk with a short sleeve shirt and a lightweight hoodie - and realize you're too hot!  When the sun is so bright, you don't leave the house without sunglasses.  When there are new buds on all the trees.  Green shoots coming out of the ground.  The mallards and geese are nesting and pairing off.  The muskrats are finding and building new homes.  Our eagles have returned to our neighborhood.  Kids are out on bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, and skateboards.  The birds are back at the feeders.  The windows are open.

And I can run outside barefoot to put the dog out!  (And not get cold!)

I love these days...  There's hope for summer afterall!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Early morning sunshine.
2.  The book, "Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell.
3.  Walks.
4.  Using up the last of last year's frozen and canned goodies.
5.  Spring colors.
6.  Hubby's grilling skills.
7.  Baked potatoes.
8.  Avoiding laundry... again...
9.  The cookbook:  "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Dinner."
10.  Falling asleep on the couch.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This afternoon, my confirmation class and I finally got to have a little fun together!  The three kids, three of the parents, hubby, I and one other college-aged kid from church headed to Mall of America to play at Nickelodean Universe for some rides and fun!

I rode rides I have avoided at all costs - and LOVED them!  I was told that my screams could beckon people from our group to whatever ride we were currently on - from the other side of the park!  Ha ha ha.  Yeah.  I'm a screamer.  But for some odd reason, I love the rides!  By the second time, I just laugh through the whole ride.
(My kids - aren't they great?)

After the rides, we re-joined some of the parents upstairs at Cadillac Ranch for dinner. 

And after dinner...  The taunts and dares were too much to pass up.  Most of the adults challenged each other to ride the mechanical bull! 
(Dun, dun, duuuun.  The bull.)
(Cathy - I'm impressed!)
(Kevin - so funny!)
(The hubby got going fast enough to be blurry!)

And yes.  I gave in and gave it a try.  Uff da.  That's a lot harder than it looks!
(I didn't get fast enough to be blurry.  Not even close. This is right before the fall... HA!)

But then, I needed some gelato for dessert.  (Kind of like when a little kid dares to try something new?  Must be rewarded!)

So much fun!

(I have a feeling some of the adults might be sneaking back there again sometime soon...)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A fun morning at church - a great small group, nice worship, yummy brunch!
2.  A quick nap.
3.  Roller coasters.  So fun.
4.  Laughing with my church kids.
5.  Laughing with their parents.
6.  Trying new things.
7.  Getting up on the bull (not doing the bull, but getting ON it - that's a lot of work!)
8.  Sharing my love of gelato with the group - Yum!
9.  Enjoying the rest of the quiet evening at home with the hubby.
10.  A good night's sleep!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Easy Going Saturday

A New Orleans style breakfast of beignets and chickory coffee - straight from New Orleans, thanks to the hubby's mom!
A walk with the dogs through our little nature area...  Beautiful weather - and happy pups!

A visit from my parents when they came to pick up Hershey and some nice chatting.

A phone call from my sis in Alaska - lots of laughs, as usual.  (Complete with knock knock jokes from my niece!)

A Delicious spring dinner of morel risotto, beets, and homemade french bread...  With a little white wine.  Perfect.

To finish off the day - cuddling up to watch the movie "How To Tame Your Dragon."  (We actually considered making a blanket fort to watch the movie in...  We were just too tired to put it together by this point...)  Can I say, I loved this movie?!  I really wish I had seen it in the theater in 3D - it would have been wonderful, I think!

Just the kind of easy-going, laid back, fun day I needed.  A REAL Saturday, with NO work!  Yeah!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Sleeping in.
2.  Laughing with the two dogs.
3.  Our first experiment in frying food - beignets.  Yum!
4.  Windows open!
5.  A nice walk.
6.  A fun grocery shopping trip - it's always fun when we go together!
7.  Cooking together.
8.  A fabulous dinner.
9.  Laughing all day.
10.  Loving my life.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Date Night

Woo-hoo!  Friday!

What to do?  What to do?  It's nice outside...  Time for some springy fun!

So - Dinner at Sea Salt Eatery.  First meal of the year OUTSIDE!  The line was long, people were in great moods, the scallop tacos were sublime, the beer was cold, and our favorite musician is back from his New York winter - ready to share the summer with us Minnesotans!
After dinner, we shared some Sebastian Joe's ice cream (Salty Caramel - mmmmm) and walked down to the Minnehaha Falls - they were flowing!  With all the flooding nearby, the falls were really rushing.  Right over the snow still gathered in the caves below - so cool.
After dinner, we made a quick stop at Midwest Mountaineering on a quest for hiking socks.  Exciting, I know.  Ha ha ha.

And, the rest of the night was spent at Kieran's Irish Pub downtown.  Big gingers, Guiness, live music...  A perfect date night out - with all the signs of summer right around the corner!

Loving it!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  An easy-going day at home.
2.  My parents' dog, Hershey, staying with us for the night.  It's like a play-date for my dog!
3.  The hubby willing to go out tonight.
4.  A good work out.
5.  Scallop tacos.  First ones of the year.  Yum!
6.  Dog-watching at the park.  They make me laugh.
7.  Slippery floors - and sliding on them.  Woo-hoo!  (Sorry, Midwest Mountaineering!)
8.  Pub pretzels.
9.  Playing with the dogs at 2am.  Too funny!
10.  Knowing I can sleep in tomorrow!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Tonight, we had our first prep meeting for a Conspiracy of Kindness activity at church.  This all started with a book that was placed on my desk last fall.  It was a book published in the early 80's - and looked cheesy as could be.  I picked it up and read through it anyway... out of couriosity. 

It looked like a great ministy for our church - small acts of kindness to share the love of God in practical ways.  No huge time commitments.  No huge money commitments.  We'd just need people with big hearts to do nice things for people they didn't know - and be able to tell the people that we are "showing God's love in a practical way."

I got a group of 8-10 people to read the book with me and start brainstorming ideas.  We met for 7 weeks - and have a lot of fun ideas!

So what's next?  We're planning!  We're doing!  (I honestly wasn't sure if we'd get to this point - but we ARE!)

So tonight, we planted basil seeds in cute little starter trays and on the Saturday before Mother's Day we plan to go down to our little "Village" area with shops, stores, and restaurants and hand out these little plants in honor of the women that make a difference in people's lives.  Maybe we'll hand them to dads out with the kids - and encourage them to take them home to mom.  Maybe we'll hand them to the women themselves and thank them for all the ways they make the world a better place...  So many fun possibilities!

But I'm sure there will be some smiles.  Some laughs.  Some "I don't get why your giving this to me for free!"

But it's a first step for our team - a first to many more, I hope!

And besides...  I just love the name "Conspiracy" of Kindness...  I like being mischievious.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Driving around with a trunk full of birthday bags...  It just makes me smile.
2.  The weather is continuing to warm up!
3.  Our friend, Barb's, surgery seems to have gone well today!
4.  Subway turkey sandwiches.
5.  Laughing with the Conspiracy ladies.
6.  The hubbies educational re-cap of the beer tasting that I missed. 
7.  Our orchid is looking beautiful!
8.  Beginning to plan for our "month of play" in May!
9.  A cuddly pup when I got home.
10.  Going to bed early!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Birthday Bags

Tonight, at church, our Lenten service project was filling gift bags with the things that make for a good birthday party: balloons, cake mix, frosting, candles, plates, invitations, banners, noisemakers, a card, and Target gift cards! 

We filled over 20 bags and will be donating them to Emma's Place (Emma's place offers permanent, affordable housing for homeless, low-income families. It has thirteen three- and four-bedroom townhomes for single parents with three or more children.) for kids who may not get a birthday party otherwise...

We had 30 people come share dinner, a devotional, and put together the bags - and all with laughter and joy at being together and sharing our blessings with others. 

What a great way to end a busy day!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Frosted Mini-Wheats.
2.  Super curly hair!
3.  Lunch with Dad - a nice break in my day.
4.  An unexpected errand with my boss - including a stop for coffee...  Mmmm...
5.  Plans to go to Nickelodean Universe this weekend with some youth group families!
6.  Planning our theme for the month of May at church - "The Spiritual Habit of Play!"
7.  A youth group kid, Lydia, helping to lead the devotional tonight - she did such a great job!
8.  A nice turnout for our service project tonight!
9.  American Idol...  a guilty pleasure.
10.  Signs of spring EVERYWHERE!  (Hundreds of geese flew over my car today and my black squirrel came to visit at work today...  Spring is here!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


So, I've been hearing the news and gossip about Rob Bell's new book, "Love Wins."  Rob is a pastor and writer, as well as the creator of the video series "NOOMA" (which I love).  Many of the ways he talks about faith, God, Jesus, and the Spirit makes sense to me and is how I, too, see my spirituality. 

But lately, his new book, is causing a ruckus.  So many fundamental, conservative big-wigs are speaking out against him - saying he must not be Christian after all because some of the phrasing in this new book makes it sound like he doesn't believe in hell.  A friend of mine was upset by this - her whole image of him torn.  I went in search of the Twitter updates and news articles about the issue - and found that most of the people spouting off hadn't even read the book because it hasn't been PRINTED yet!  Oh, for goodness sakes....

I had an older book of Rob's on my bedside table that I hadn't gotten around to reading, so I thought I would start it today.  I must say, like everything else I've seen and read of his - I'm loving it.  Here's my favorite excerpt from today's reading:

"As a Christian, I am simply trying to orient myself around living a particular kind of way, the kind of way that Jesus taught is possible.  And I think that the way of Jesus is the best possible way to live.

"This isn't irrational or primitive or blind faith.  It is merely being honest that we all are living a 'way.'

"I'm convinced being generous is a better way to live.

"I'm convinced forgiving people and not carrying around bitterness is a better way to live.

"I'm convinced having compassion is a better way to live.

"I'm convinced pursuing peace in every situation is a better way to live.

"I'm convinced listening to the wisdom of others is a better way to live.

"I'm convinced being honest with people is a better way to live.

"This way of thinking isn't weird or strange; it's simply acknowledging that everybody follows somebody, and I'm trying to follow Jesus."
--Rob Bell, from "Velvet Elvis"

It's all about aligning my life with the teachings of Jesus... 
And we all need the occasional re-alignment... 

Things I am thankful for today:
1.  Waking up to sunshine!
2.  A homemade muffin for breakfast.
3.  Prayers being answered.
4.  Visitors at work - brightens my day!
5.  So many interesting and exciting things happening at our church.
6.  Going for a nice, long walk tonight. 
7.  Making another new yummy dinner!
8.  Being sleepy early in the evening - there will be some good sleep tonight!
9.  Looking forward to lunch with Dad tomorrow.
10.  Our family room floor covered in dog toys: a stuffed gorilla, 2 "bobo" toys, 2 bones, a stuffed bunny, and 2 balls...  You'd think we had a toddler!  Goodness...

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Quick Update

So...  I've been a little absent from the blogging world for a little over a month now.  Truth is, it just hasn't been a priority.

Work has been really busy - and when you work at a church, that means more than just pushing paperwork.  It means stretching your limits emotionally as well as intellectually, and sometimes, physically.  We've had a LOT of bad news about congregation members in the last month - cancer diagnoses, deaths in peoples' families, more lost jobs, dying pets, people moving away, the death of a long-time parishoner...  It's been a lot to handle.  (And it doesn't help that I get so emotionally connected!)

On top of all that, I haven't been feeling well for about 5 weeks.  Today's the first day I've been feeling back to normal (even a full work out - woo-hoo!).

So yes, I know you've all been patiently waiting for my return...  But sometimes, life comes before the computer.  And I think that's ok. 

Here's what else I've been up to since my last post:
*  Re-connecting with the book group ladies over dinner in March.  (Good thing - there were big things happening in the lives of these remarkable ladies!)

*  The hubby and I found a house we loved in Minneapolis.  After trying every possible angle to figure out how to unload our townhome (we owe far more than it's worth in this economy), we had to let the house go.  Grrr...  We're trying to get ourselves postitioned to try again a year from now.  But we're having fun exploring the neighborhoods we're interested in!
*  We had a very memorable St. Patty's Day with the parents!  Ha ha ha. Long story - but let's say, it involved a not-so-Irish pub, latino music, rap and hip-hop, huge afros, and a lot of laughter.
*  A lovely breakfast with two of my favorite ladies - Em and Elly - at my favorite cafe!  So much fun!
*  A new cookbook for my birthday that is yielding very yummy results!
*  The hubby re-created our evening in Belgium last year for my birthday this year!  Moules and Frites for dinner with yummy Belgian beer.  Candles and tulips on the table.  Good music.  Dessert of ice cream and stroopwafels.  A relaxing, fun evening at home = perfect!
*  A fun lunch for my birthday at my parents' house - even Kayla was home!  (And finally making plans with Kay to see a concert together - The Civil Wars in a couple of weeks!)
*  A quick trip to Milwaukee for my sister-in-law's bridal shower.  So fun to see her happy - and being celebrated!  She's come a long way in the last 5 years - and it's about time she has wonderful things happening in her life!
(Some of the women from my hubby's family - his sister, Kerry; Aunt Bernice; Aunt and Godmother, Marion; Mom, Joan; and in front, Aunt Annie)

*  And yesterday, my friend, Jill, and I went to visit Kelsey (an former youth group member, who's now in college).  Good company, good food and drinks, a stop at Trader Joe's on the way home - all-in-all a fun day!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Feeling more and more like myself.
2.  A good workout.
3.  Catching up here!
4.  A busy - but fun - week this week!
5.  Sunshine.
6.  A windy day - and NO headache!
7.  Our orchid is blooming (for the first time in 2 years!).
8.  New recipes - tonight?  Chicken curry.
9.  Stacks of books to read.
10.  Good problems at work - problems caused by good things!
11. Love this blog post by Brene Brown...
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