Sunday, December 2, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
The adventures began with the turkey. It's really kind of funny. I look at my spice rack and pick whatever looks entertaining at the time and we rub the turkey down with that and some olive oil (and it always turns out yummy!) The trick this year was getting the turkey balanced correctly on the spit, as we rotisserie our beloved bird. We were getting a little worried and frustrated but finally all was well at the grill and dinner would only be served about an hour from when I thought it would be ready. Which was fine because there was flexibility in schedules (Mom and Dad were headed to the ASU game later that day) and we were more than able to adjust the side dishes to the new serving time. Plus, people were quite content with spinach and artichoke dip, with an assortment of veggies and homemade herb bread, that was set before them to nibble on for the time being.
After getting the turkey settled into the grill, we had breakfast. Some of you know that my little fish, Jazz, had been sick and was nearing the end of his life. I checked on him before breakfast and he was still hanging in there. I went back after breakfast and he was gone. A bit of a sad time, I must say. I had him since 2004. We buried him next to the orange tree as I cannot bear to flush them. Friday, we braved some of the stores (only to find nothing that we really wanted) and stopped by Petsmart on the way home where we got a new fish! He is a crowntail beta and quite beautiful. He's doesn't have as strong a personality as the other fish... maybe that will change. For those of you that knew my fish before you know I am not off my rocker in saying that a fish, especially my fish, had some sort of personality. ha ha!! Anyway, so we welcomed Stout to his little place on the piano the day after Thanksgiving.
All in all, it was a delightful holiday. Husband, Papa, and I worked on a "Beers of the World" puzzle with 1,000 little pieces and finished it sometime on Monday. We watched ASU lose a pretty tough game. I laughed as Nebraska fell to Colorado once again and snickered as Texas A&M beat out Texas (or TU for you Aggie fans - I learned a lot about that rivalry when I visited Texas A&M before I was assigned there... but found out I was getting married instead of reporting to that assignment) Time spent playing games with Mom and Dad C. Singing with the congregation as we prepare for the Advent season and the beginning of the church calendar. What fun!! Papa left on Tuesday but will be back in a couple of weeks to celebrate Chirstmas.
The tree is up... just a few more touches on it and it will be done. I love this time of year!
I think for now, I will go enjoy the rain.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Sometimes there are perks to living outside the city. The rain today would be one of them. I love cloudy days. After Husband left for work and I didn't have a whole lot on my "to do" list I seized the opportunity to climb back into bed with a book as it thundered and threatened to rain more.
Tuesday, I began to read Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson. It is for younger readers, maybe middle school on up. But it stirred up some celebrity in our church circles as the son of a pastor in our fellowship wrote this book that was picked up by Random House. It didn't come out with the fanfare as say Harry Potter but it is a different book entirely. The imagination and story so far have been quite fun to try and figure out and I think it most appropriate for the age group. And, like Harry Potter, it will find a fan base of all ages. I digress. When I put the book down on Tuesday I was merely into chapter three. I am a slow reader more often than not... and this was after only 35 minutes on the stationary bike.
However, today I am almost half way through the book with a high potential for actually finishing it today! It's a quick read... as it should be for the intended target audience and only about 230 pages. I found it fun that I was reading the book while it was raining as the main character, Tom, is stuck in a cave and it's storming. It helped to capture the scene in my imagination a little more vividly as a LOUD clap of thunder rattled my windows. However, have no fear, there is no spoiler here.
With all that to say in a very vague way... I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone if they are looking for something fun and easy to read. Especially if one has kiddos. I think most children of any age would enjoy it. I think the ones that would enjoy it most are boys, but I think the girls would think it fun and maybe even silly as Tom has some interesting adventures in the valley overlooked by Leepike Ridge.
On a side note... after one particular loud crash of thunder I heard the rain almost immediately follow. I popped up to look outside and much to my surprise there were little white balls bouncing off the grass... it was HAILING! Only pea-sized hail... and it didn't last very long. I was just expecting big, fatty drops of rain... not hail!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I lay all this out for you so that there would be full understanding when I say that cheesecake is a diva among desserts... yea, even a prima donna. It is a fine dessert that is quite delectable and some may even call it divine. Temperamental and high maintenance could also be tagged right on the tail of it, too. Especially by those who opt to make them at home.
There are so many things to consider when making a cheesecake. Did I stir it too much? Should I add some starch? What kind of water bath will be the most effective? Did the springform pan make the right seal? Will the pan leak? Or maybe I should use a regular cake pan (which many people do, I guess). Is it done? Maybe it's already TOO done! Is the oven too hot according to some? Is it cooking too fast? Is it cooling too fast?
All this in the attempt to get the "perfect" cheesecake. You know... the one with no cracks. Although, people do tell me it's the cracks that say it's homemade and as long as it tastes good it doesn't really matter. While some of that is true the cracks, as I read more, can tell you answers to those questions asked above... just not which question in particular. Cracks can mean that the oven was too hot, that it cooked to fast, there wasn't enough humidity in the oven, that it could be over baked, and that it cooled too fast. Sigh.
I rant over this because a couple of weeks ago Husband made a pumpkin cheesecake for a Men's Cake Bake at church which was really fun and quite hilarious at times. The above photo was the first attempt at the cake and it got honorable mention at the cake bake which was fun! (The FV is somewhat of an inside "joke" at our church. It was an attempt to keep some things light and poke fun at ourselves... It worked.) :) Well, there were some cracks but as most people know, frosting (of any sorts or topping for that matter) will cover a multitude of sins. HA! The cake was such a hit with one family (who loves pumpkin) they asked us to make it for a Halloween party that we would be going to at their house on the 31st. So, we made the cake and took some extra precautions and we came back with some of the same results. I think we will try a different water bath this next time around.
Either way, we get yummy cheesecake!
**The reason I am fond of the word "diva" is that I was in an accountability group called the DIVAS and there were five of us, one for each letter, and it was quite fun. If you want to know more you can ask...I think that we would have been under the "fine lady" definition. As it was a group created to edify and grow in the Lord. So, if any of you ladies are reading this... HI!!! :) Love you and miss you, too!!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Yesterday, the SAME store bestowed a free bag of ice upon us. An interesting story of telling the cashier I needed ice, we talked about how I was already buying my turkey for Thanksgiving, and then she told me the total for all of my purchases. I asked again if that included the ice. Friendly cashier then said, "No, but don't worry about it... just go grab a bag." I was a little bewildered... again. I asked, "Are you sure?" Because we could just run another transaction, right? But no, she insisted. I was tired and said, "Okay." I had to run back to the store later and grab a couple of things there and I thought to just pay for it then but it slipped my mind.
Maybe the next time....
Friday, November 2, 2007
(And, yes, I realize that this post is coming on a FRIDAY and not really on Soup Day)
Anyway, it has been my goal to try to find some new things to make along the soup genre of food as well as pull out some ol ' favorites. When I started this whole adventure (two weeks ago) we started off with chili which is a favorite around here. It's just yummy with its beef, two- or three- bean mixture, spices, and corn. Sometimes we will have it over Frito's which adds a really yummy crunch... but not always so good for us. I saw a friend have it over rice one time so we tried that. We liked it and will probably eat it that way again. However, we did miss the "crunch!"
Last week, I made a wonderfully delicious soup called Cadillo which I read was a Northern New Mexican meal. Maybe so. It represented some what of a stew to me but not quite a REAL stew. It had green chile in it and that was enough to get a two thumbs up from me and my husband. We made it with a beef base, ground beef, green chile, spices, and some potato. Yum.
This week was delectable! I decided to try something that I don't think I have done before. Sometimes I shy away from cream-type soups because I am always afraid of scorching the milk and having a disaster on my hands. My husband, being the encourager that he is, always says "Go ahead, try something new. If it all goes south we can go get some wings." So, knowing that, I went for it and I am so glad that I did!! On top of that I decided to get a little fancy and opted to make my own bread bowls. They were so good!! The soup was called Baked Potato Soup which was one of Cooking Light's all-time best recipes for soup. It requires, go figure, for the potatoes to be baked and then add things that would be on a baked potato like bacon bits, cheese, green onion or chives, and some sour cream. I found a wonderful recipe for a bread bowl. It was called Italian Herbed Bread. I modified it by adding some garlic powder to the already included Italian seasonings and then threw in some rosemary for sass. Then I adjusted the baking to my bread bowl needs. Wow. The house smelled great and our mouths rejoiced in the wonderment of such savory flavors. I think that this soup will be a yearly tradition. And I am sure that the bread will make appearances here and there with other meals. Maybe someday again as a soup bowl.
Next week, I think that I am going to try making my friend Amanda's new creation, Spicy Chicken Chickpea Soup. Intriguing, I know. Especially since one of the ingredients is peanut butter!
I look forward to Thursday's and my adventures in soup making. Fun times.
**It's becoming a fascination of taking photos of the culinary creations that come from the kitchen. I almost forgot to take a photo with the green onions but the top photo developed better, I thought... so, I had to add both.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Upon my arrival at the "Guest Services" desk I was greeted by a friendly young woman who began to work on my transaction. She was a little perplexed at my returning such a large amount of candy, what with Halloween a couple of days away (at the time), but she started scanning and typing away. She handed me my receipt and said that $15.66 had been credited back to my credit card. I thought that the number seemed high as I had gone in on Friday with a number that I did not want to exceed and I was pretty sure this exceeded that number. So, as I walked away I pulled my cart over (I had other grocery business to attend to as well) and looked at the papers the young lady had given me. Sure enough! On Friday, I purchased $11.56 worth of candy and now the store just gave me a $15.66 credit instead! I turned my cart around and stood back in line. The young lady was working with someone else and her manager (I think) then calls me over and asks how she could help me. I explain the situation, she gets a slightly annoyed look on her face, and then tells me not to worry about it! WHAT?!?! She then says she will tell the girl about it and for me not to worry. As I try to tell her that I can wait to have it fixed she still tells me not to worry about the problem and to basically have a nice day. Flabbergasted is one word to describe what I was feeling at that very moment.
Now I wonder if it will be adjusted back to the $11.56 (I hope so!) or if it will be a $4.00 bonus for us?
It seems like people are surprised when you try to do the right thing, especially when the error is in your favor. As a people of God we are called to a higher standard and that means honesty in dealings with family, friends, and businesses. It seems like some people are so used to being "ripped-off" these days that they would rather not take the few extra steps to right the wrong. What is this world coming to?
Friday, October 26, 2007
"Well, we are having a fall festival and I have a lot of tables to decorate."
"Then do you throw them away?"
"I guess. I think some of the families will take them to decorate until Thanksgiving."
"They won't last until next year?"
"I don't think so."
She looks at me with a perplexed facial contortion. That is when Leon, the friendly Costco Cashier, chimes in and says that his were stored in his garage for a year and they were just fine when he brought them out this year! I think my jaw dropped a smidge. Through the desert heat they survived. I am amazed. However, I know that if one of them gets a bit smashed little buggies will descend quite rapidly from no where... there was evidence of that at the display in the back of the store.
Needless to say, I hope that 11 (8 of which were purchased today) bags of shellacked gourds will do the trick to decorate the 40 or so tables for Fall Festival this weekend. I know that we have some whole fruit coming, like apples, and we will use that in decorating if need be in the main ramada. Should be fun.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
With all that to say, I found myself laughing the other day and pondering the women that went before me in this wonderful estate... Why, you ask? I will tell you!
My Papa did a great job raising me on his own. He did teach me a lot but I am sure that no parent can teach EVERYTHING -- especially a Father (who has very different roles in a household) to a daughter (who will eventually have very different roles in the household someday). In my frustration of trying to fold a fitted sheet and having my linen closet look a little frumpy, I thought to myself, "Surely there has to be a way to do this!" So, like any other normal red-blooded American I Googled (!) "how to fold a fitted sheet." Lo and behold, site after site came up on how to fold a fitted sheet! Eureka! I was pumped as there were videos and photos (as I am such a visual person) and now my linen closet looks much happier. And I am proud of myself for learning something new. That's when my laughter set in! Google! Of all things! How did women before Internet ever find things... that's the point... they are the ones that figured it out and passed it on. Thanks to them for their hard work and ingenuity and I am thankful that I was ordained to live now in the computer age. I will say, there is still plenty of room for ingenuity!
I laughed yesterday, too, as I was writing an e-mail to my fun friend in Albuquerque and told her what I was up to for the day. As I was typing out that I "need to go pick up some water" I snickered because even with all of our technology we still haul water at some level. Thankfully, I don't need to go down to the river with a bucket. Rather, I drive to Costco and get some bottles or I head over to the grocery store front and put my larger bottles in a machine that is plugged into some source and it fills my bottle. Then I put them in a cart that easily transports the eight-pounds-per-gallon to my car and I drive it home in a contraption that runs on gas and not on grass.
I find life highly entertaining.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Now, I don't normally get really excited about a particular meal that I am about to make. I really like cooking but it's been awhile since I have been, " I am SO excited to see how this comes out!"
Well, this would be one of those times. I found a recipe that looked really yummy and would challenge me in how I put flavors together and even in the things that I would opt to eat. This was SO good!! The balance of tangy, spicy, sweet, and everything... just melded together quite nicely! On top of it all, it's a pretty healthy meal option. I think that it may become a fast favorite in our home. It was a little random that I had some of the more obscure ingredients on hand. I think that is what drew me to the recipe in the first place. The original recipe called for it to be served with pearl barley prepared in a vegetable broth. However, I did not have that on hand and we really love couscous (so good they had to name it twice!) so that is what we served along side this yummy dish. I found the recipe in a book called "Eating for Life." It has been a source for many a meal over the last several years and I just opted to get it back out a couple of weeks ago. We really have enjoyed the recipes from this book.
Well, I haven't quite figured out how to add a .PDF link to the website yet. So, if you would like the recipe you will have to e-mail me for it or leave a message here requesting it (you'll need to leave your e-mail not in the message itself but you'll see a place for it) and then I will send it off to you!
Happy eating... and joyful cooking to you all! :) (I am a nerd...)
Monday, September 10, 2007
Our adventure really started on the Thursday we were to leave. I went with Husband to work so we didn't have to juggle two cars here and there. So, to get to his place of employment back to our home "should" have been about an hour and fifteen minutes. Do you want to take any guess as to how long it REALLY took? If you start singing the "Gilligan's Island" theme you will realize the answer when you reach "a three hour tour, a three hour tour!" AH! We saw one of the worst tractor trailer accidents ever and then there was another accident near Husband's place of work and then there were continual hiccups as a residual effect from the tractor trailer accident trying to get home. Needless to say, we left at 6:30 AM and I got home at 9:30 AM. Nutty.
Thankfully, the rest of the day went smoothly. I got all I needed to get done at home...some cleaning and last minute packing details. I picked up Husband from work and we were off to the airport. (See, this is where the planes part of the title comes into play)
We arrived in San Francisco late Thursday night. Friday morning we enjoyed a fun breakfast at the hotel and then off to Sonoma County area which would be better known as wine country. We finally made it there and did some tasting at Chateau St. Jean. It was a lovely place and the wine quite delicious. For a variety of reasons we opted to just drive around and tour the area and then decided to head down to the Monterey area (Marina to be exact) and check into our next hotel. Once again we had another "three hour tour" plus 15-20 minutes for a trip that should have taken about 2.5 hours. Such is life on Labor Day weekend and traffic accidents I suppose. We eventually ended up at the Marina Dunes Resort. It's fun because a) it's right on the beach and b) they give you a golf cart to drive around in while on the grounds! It was a lovely time of relaxing and enjoying time together.
Saturday, we went to Monterey (about 10 miles down the road) and went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is quite extraordinary. I would highly recommend not going on the weekend and it is worth the price, indeed. Especially, if you have kiddos. Then we had lunch at fun little Thai restaurant across the way from the aquarium. After some yummy Pad Thai and Chicken Curry we meandered down Cannery Row which is filled with shops, restaurants, and interesting people. On the way out of town we saw a little Irish pub and filed it in the back of our minds as a possible place to eat. We had originally planned to eat at a micro-brew in Marina but after we called the pub to see if they served Magners (a hard apple cider that is known as Bulmers in Ireland) and when they confirmed that they did we opted to go there instead. You see, Magners is only available in limited places in the US and I have been really wanting one since we got back from Ireland. What we found at Shane's Irish Bistro was a quaint little place that reminded us of the Irish countryside. The owner talked with us a bit and pointed us in the direction of an Irish market when we got back to San Francisco. Good times, good food, good beer.
Sunday, we worshipped with the congregation of Church of the King where Husband knew the pastor on previous visits from him to our congregation in Phoenix. It was a delightful time to meet new people and be welcomed so warmly by their community. After worship, we headed back to San Francisco. We ate lunch at some random diner near our hotel, checked in, and then dropped off our rental car (see, AUTOMOBILE). From here on out it was public (and hotel) transportation. We took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit...i.e TRAIN!) to the center of town. We walked to Pier 39 and enjoyed all the sights and sounds. San Francisco is a people-watchers dream. And for those who know me well, I love to watch people so this place is AWESOME. It is probably one of the most interesting places because it is quite the international city. We headed over to Little Italy where we had a yummy dinner on the sidewalk dinning area of Mona Lisa's. It was a pretty place and quite fun to watch Italian exchange on the street. I think after that we went to Ghirardelli Square where we had a decadent Espresso Dark Sundae. Yep, espresso flavored ice cream with dark chocolate sauce.
Monday, we tried to contact the Irish market but they, so we thought, were closed (we found out later they just opened later than usual). We had breakfast at Noah's Bagels and then headed off to see more fun things like Chinatown (totally cool), Fisherman's Wharf, and Palace of Fine Arts (Intruiging and beautiful Architecture). We had crab cakes for lunch and I checked out a really neat gallery on Pier 39. We also watched one of the shows there... kind of corny but it was funny, too. We stopped in for a drink at an Irish pub in the afternoon and then grabbed a cable car to tour the city and plus it was something that we just wanted to do. I was so excited that we were able to grab a place where you have to stand. Although, it was a little chilly it was totally fun going up and down the crazy, hilly streets of the city. The driver would tease us like he was really going to "let her go" on the downhill side of things like a roller coaster. It was a neat way to see different parts of the city. Taking the cable car is not really a practical way to get across town in a hurry but it sure is fun! When we got down near Union Square the line ended and we walked around a bit (Neither of us are really shoppers, just observers) we decided to track down our dinner restaurant which was in the Financial District. It wasn't until we were about two blocks from the place that we thought it might be closed because of Labor Day. Sure enough! We got down there and there was another couple discovering the same bad news. Just the same, we recovered and took an old street car (they are all old and really interesting!) back to Fisherman's Wharf where we enjoyed some seafood. We were pretty tired (and a little sunburned) so we headed back to the hotel for a restful night.
Tuesday morning, we checked out of the hotel and had them hold our bags until the afternoon. We jumped on their shuttle to the BART station and took that for a bit into town where we jumped on a MUNI Train to a random part of the city to find our little Irish Market. We called to see if they still had breakfast and they did but they also informed us that they usually run out by 10 AM. We were arriving close to 11 AM! So we hoped that today would be an exception. Sure enough, they had PLENTY for an Irish Breakfast Roll (includes eggs, bangers, white pudding, Irish bacon, some other trimmings, and HP Sauce) This market was incredibly cool and so very Irish. We picked up some Magners to take home and some other fun things that reminded us of Ireland. We took our "brunch" to Golden Gate Park where we ate in the Shakespeare Garden. We were visited by a curious and cute little squirrel who munched on some of our Tay-to chips. I like pretty places and Matt has a knack for getting us to some amazing places. This was such a nice place for a meal as there we no other people (until we were leaving) and it was just beautiful. You could see where they probably have readings of Shakespeare in the summer evenings and how fun that must be! After our delightful meal we headed back towards Pier 39 via bus and a nice little jaunt via our feet for a few little things we needed to pick up for family. While at the pier I had to stop and see the Sea Lions one more time. I mention them only here because each time we went to Pier 39 I had to stop and watch them for a bit. They are so FUNNY! (There will be a video of them at the end of this post) Husband thought it was funny how I was so easily amused by them. What can I say, I find them highly entertaining! By now, I was a bit tired so I asked if we could head back to the hotel to get our luggage and head to the airport. Husband is diligent to be mindful of my frame agreed to end our tour about town and mentioned it was about time to head back anyway.
So concludes our fun little trip. It was nice to get out of the heat of Phoenix for a bit... but it is always nice to return to our home...and home is Phoenix. We have one more trip planned this year to see Husband's grandparents in Denver and then we will be home for the rest of the year... holidays and other such fun stuff (lest we decide to make a jaunt or two over to New Mexico to visit my Papa).
Oh... here's my favorite video of the Sea Lions at Pier 39 (They like to play this game ALL day!):
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
In a year I have learned so much about my husband, so much about God, and so much about myself... and all of that points to how I relate with others. There have been lessons in giving and receiving grace... it seems as though receiving grace is much harder at times than giving it because I love Husband so very much. It makes me understand my relationship with God a bit more... and I laugh at just how stubborn we "sons of Adam" and "daughters of Eve" really are. I have never laughed as hard or as much as I have with him. For some of you that may be hard to believe because I like to laugh a lot. I have never been more aware of how the things that I say can hurt a person and never have I been as emotionally sensitive to someone as I am to him(as it should be!)
I once heard someone mention to another that they were giving up their single life to get married. My heart broke. God created marriage before the fall... it was not part of the curse. I think many hide behind Scripture to not pursue marriage (that's a whole other topic for another day) - they hide behind the pretense of being content in their singleness but inside they desperately want to be married. Anyway, I digress... I would "give up" my single life again and again to experience this life that I have with Husband. For me, it is a priceless upgrade. Married Life... I HIGHLY recommend it! ;)
The year has gone by so fast! Yet, it seems like Husband has known me all of my life. When I think about things it feels as though he has always been a part of my life... the reality is that he only entered my life in October of 2005! He is the greatest and my most cherished blessing. We have had a great time and look forward with eager anticipation of what the Lord will bring us in the coming years!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I will say, though, that we had great fun at the dairy farm. We played with all the new calves (who are quite the characters and love to suck on your fingers- Jersey cows are fun!), drank raw milk (which could have caused me to be sick but I don't think so with the time frame), had great fellowship, and just had an all around wonderful and relaxing time. It was my first time to Nevada and it was nice to say that it wasn't to the "strip" in Vegas. Although, we were intrigued by the lights as we flew through there. Fun times.
On top of being sick another dear friend, Virgina Bahnsen, passed into glory and I missed her memorial service because of my illness. I was able to read and listen to what people said of this lovely woman of the faith but it would have been nice if I had actually been able to make it. She loved my husband like one of her own children and it was a delight to get to know her and spend time with her over the last year. She will be missed.
The week after I was sick I felt like I was playing catch up to get our household back in order. It was crazy but it seemed like the better our house became the better I became. But I had to be careful not to wear myself down too terribly much. At some point Husband and I decided that we would go to New Mexico this past weekend to see my dad, go to a new church with him, and pick up our top layer of wedding cake so we can eat it on our first anniversary. Then during that trip we realized that the green chile season was starting in New Mexico so of course we wanted in on that action so we brought home just over three bushels of roasted green chile and have packed it all into our freezer which is a feat in and of itself! But we are quite content with our finds. Papa also let us raid his store of Oryx meat which is always a plus. Hopefully, he will fill his freezer again this hunting season with other yummy wild game.
Now, two girls that were in a bible study that I led (and one of them I actually discipled) at the University of New Mexico are here to visit for the week. Should be fun as we have all sorts of fun things planned. There is only so much that we can fit into one week.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Monday we had a crazy storm! Husband came home and declared that there was a dust storm (which is usually followed by rain) coming in from the North. I looked out the window and asked, "Are you sure? From the North?" Because as I saw it there was one coming in from the SOUTH. Well, sure enough there was one coming in from BOTH directions and they would precisely converge over our house. To say the least it produced some phenomenal rain, thunder, and lightning for most of the night. In the morning we woke up with this as our view from the fence in our backyard. There is a sidewalk under there somewhere where people daily walk their pets and traverse the area to get to the pool and the fitness area. Not so much for the last few days. Now, I think it is just muddy back there with more rains in the forecast. It did absorb pretty fast and I need to go to see just how much is still back there.
On Tuesday morning I discovered that it was still ever so slightly raining. Well, I decided that this would be the perfect time to go pull those few weeds out in the front yard. Seriously there were probably three in all but they are those funky ground cover ones that just drive me crazy. I could pull weeds all day when the ground is wet... so simple. I even pondered pulling my neighbor's weeds. But I refrained considering I don't know them very well... they may have taken offense. However, although I didn't mind pulling our few weeds and took delight in keeping our home lovely in front, I was thankful that Husband had opted to pull out his store of "pre-emergent" early this spring and spray all of our rocks with the stuff. It basically keeps most of the weeds from seeding and then somehow doesn't allow the seeds to grow back. Pretty plant friendly and less work for us throughout the year by spraying everything about twice a year. Good stuff. I wish we had used this stuff when I was a kid!
So, that's the word from us here in rainy Arizona... that just sounds and looks funny. It's cooling off a bit... but its still reaching into the 100's from time to time... which isn't so fun with humidity. Oh well... we will survive!
Monday, July 16, 2007
How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!
While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
"Lord, why was I a guest?
Why was I made to hear the voice,
And enter while there's room,
When thousands make the wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?"
'Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.
Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.
We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.
- Isaac Watts, Hymns and Sacred Songs, 1707 (Old Irish hymn melody)
I remember the first time that I really sang this song and the power behind the words met my heart and the Spirit really moved to show me what a gift God has given me through being included in His covenant and His kingdom...His Church. We first sang this, or when I really remembered it, when Husband and I came back from Ireland. We had just been in a beautiful country where church and Christ are not highly looked upon. They, like the U.S., are removing religion from their schools. Churches are having to close their doors and sell their buildings, which are then being turned into offices or others things of that nature. For example, St. Andrew's in Dublin now houses the Office of Tourism rather than gathered worshippers. And the churches that are open are reduced to opening the doors to tourists and charging them a fee to come in so that they can stay afloat.
Lord, "We long to see Thy churches full..."
I cry every time we sing this song in church. Maybe it's in some part that it is an Irish melody, but mostly it's because it is filled to the brim with the richness of who God is and His love for His bride, the Church. It is quickly becoming one of my favorites because of its potency. I think it may be taken from the book of Acts, but I need to look into that more. It moves me with the vastness of my sin and the need for a Savior in a fallen world. It speaks of unity and the Gospel going forth... there's so much here in these six little verses!
You can hear a midi file version of the hymn here - it's pretty much how we sing it at church (minus their noted second verse). I found some other versions online that just kind of scared me. :) But, I guess each to their own musical interpretation and arrangement. I will take our traditional piano any time, thanks.
Photo is of a small little chapel in Ireland, used only on holidays.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
"Without a restoration of the psalms to an honored place in worship, our musical worship of the Lord will continue to have the gravitas of a glad bag full of styrofoam packing peanuts"(Mother Kirk, p. 138)
So true. In the word we see the admonition to be singing hymns and pslams at the very least. What could be better than singing the psalms, the very WORD of God. Yes, many of them are set to music and are in a "hymnal" type form. Makes one think about what one is singing in church, yes?
I'm not saying that other songs are bad... but when we really think about worship what are we really singing about? Ourselves and our worship or about the character of God? How could it be any better than to sing the Word of God back to the One who wrote it?
This is some of what I have been learning and I find that I am singing these things when I am around the house, driving, and even in the waking hours of the morning. There are times that I find myself in tears in church at the sheer magnitude of God through the gift of song and of the singing of hymns and psalms.
Monday, July 9, 2007
It's interesting how things in life can take a person down "memory lane".... things like the passing of a beloved family friend or a class reunion. Both of these are present in life right now and it has been fun and quite sad in both regards.
On July 4th, much to my unknowing heart, would be the last day that a dear friend breathed her last here on this earth (three days after her 73rd birthday). Shirley Quillin passed into another life free from her ailing body here on earth. Shirley was the wife of Norm... Norm the hunting buddy and dear friend of my Dad (They reminded me of Fred and Barney from the Flintstones at times). As I think back on childhood it brings fondness with great sadness and a lump in my throat. Norm was there for my Dad when my Mom passed away - just in that they have been friends for over 28 years. Now my Dad is here for Norm. Norm and Shirley were always at our house on Sunday afternoons if Norm and my Dad were not out on some hunting trip. Although, I remember a couple of times that we joined them on their excursions to the woods. Shirley would read until I came and asked her to play games with me... we would play for hours. I remember the hours spent at our house where she would watch Disney films with me and when I was older she taught me how to play Canasta and Dirty Canasta. (Oh what I wouldn't do for a refresher course from her now) I remember how she and my late Aunt Dee would sit and talk and laugh for hours. There are more memories than I can really recount. She was loved dearly and I wish that I had made more time to visit her over the last few years. What I am most sad about now is that she never met Matt. But through the grapevine, she knew that he made me happy. Shirley will be deeply missed by her friend, her grandchildren, children, and I am sure she will be missed most by Norm.
Ten years ago I graduated from Los Lunas High School... big deal, right? Many will say what's the big deal... well, I had fun in high school (much more in college) but high school was a good thing for me. Granted, I really only keep in touch with a hand full of people anymore it was fun to think about people I hadn't thought about since high school and finally to hear from people that had poked their way through my memory over the last 10 years. One of my classmates decided to put bios together of those who thought to send them in so those of us unable to attend, like me, could still catch up with some people. It was great to see what some people have done since those four short years in high school and to see how they have changed. Unfortunately, there were a few that... well... haven't changed at all and it came shining through in their bio. Many thought they were in better places than they could have imagined back then... many said they were still working on figuring out who they were... and others thought (in a negative sense) they were in a place they never thought of when we were just 18. People are married and have children, some are divorced, some have advanced degrees, others do not. Some are following Christ... others are running away. Some have even passed away... what a thought.
It has been a week of remembrance...however, I am so very blessed by the present and I look to the future with excited anticipation of all that the Lord holds for our household.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
There was much conversing, laughing, and eating. We had a wonderful time. There was even a "Birthday Boy Trivia Game" that was set up similar to the TV show "1 vs. 100." Many were surprised by the answers, but in the end... Husband's friends knew him well!
Husband was also treated to a fun gift from some friends of ours in New Mexico. I conspired with Renee (who happens to be a very talented Graphic Designer) to make a professional looking label for his home brew. Boy, did she come through! People thought that I had picked up some "pre-made" beer and took the label off. There were all sorts of thoughts. But, alas, Husband has his own label and his own beer. I think that the label makes the beer quite appealing... everyone wanted to try some and some people even asked if they could take an empty bottle home.
He was also surprised by the generosity of so many people as we collected some funds for Husband to somehow keep his passion for flying alive and well. He is thinking about actually ending his flying days for an extended season for a variety of reasons and will probably pick up RC Airplanes. I think he's pretty excited about putting one together and flying it in one of the local air parks in the valley!
People filtered through for a couple of hours at this "open house" type party... which usually works best when there are quite a few people invited. Husband was thoroughly wiped out after the fact. My sweet, introverted husband! :) I cannot give him too much grief because his nutty extrovert wife was pretty wiped out, too!
There it is... a wonderful birthday for the most wonderful man. I am so thankful to be married to someone as strong, caring, tender, and rooted in the Faith as him.
On his actual birthday we had a delightful dinner at a brewery in downtown Tempe called Gordon Biersch. It was a fun time. Then we headed over to watch the third installation of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
...Living in the Desert. It's an interesting thing. Husband and I have lived in the Southwest part of the United States virtually all of our lives. He here in the Phoenix area and me in Albuquerque. (Although, I had a brief stint in Nebraska and, after some convincing, was happy to return to the high mountain desert of New Mexico)
If you haven't spent much time here, if any, you may not think that the two places are all that different. I was guilty of that very assumption. Both places have amazing sunsets, ever changing landscape, dirt, and well... that may be about it as far as similarities go.
I have learned some interesting things here.I think the most interesting one, that actually freaked me out at first is because Arizona gets so darn hot it effects the water temperature of what comes out of your faucet. I remember turning on the COLD and out comes perfectly warm bathtub temperature water. I asked Husband if something was wrong with the faucets or the water heater. He laughed. Then told me that's just what happens when it's warm here. Lovely. Strange, don't you think?
Phoenix, unlike Albuquerque, strives to make the city really beautiful with lovely plants and other desert friendly vegetation. (I'm not saying that ABQ is totally ugly or whatever, it's just very different visually than PHX) On top of that, I have been able to learn what most of the plants are in the area. A little surprising but I like that I know what some of the really pretty flowers are called and what different plants are. Maybe a little nerdy, but fun.
It doesn't cool down here at night much. If we were to have triple-digit temperatures in Albuquerque we could anticipate the night bringing relief with a temps going back down to the low 70's or high 60's. Not so much here. The nights will be high 70's, 80's, and maybe still even low 90's. I was informed by the news a few days ago that AZ will probably experience it's first ever overnight low of 100. Awesome. And those of you that know me find it really funny that God sent me to Arizona (thankfully, with the man I love most!) to live. I don't "do" heat so well because I sweat a lot. Well, folks, I must tell you that I am getting used to it here and 100+ doesn't seem so "oven-ish" as it used to. Still hot, no doubt, but I am adjusting.
The sun is more intense here.
Holy bright outside, Batman (bring those shades!)
I am sure that there are more. We are now in the throws of triple-digit weather. They say we may break the record of 122 this summer. woohoo! (blah!) Then they joke with us and say we will have a cool down. Their definition of cool down is 96. Oh well, there is a pool with my name on it just around the corner.
So, come visit... winter is best... but it's so beautiful in the summer with all the plants and flowers. If you come in the summer we can spend time at the pool and other fun things. It's really quite a fun place...
I love living here.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
For some, Nebraska conjures up all sorts of ideas and thoughts about life. Corn, nutty football fans, covered wagons, flat land, and many other stereo-typical type things for the heartland of America. While many of these things are also true (ha!) for me it conjures up fond memories of a slower-paced life with family, jumping on hay "rolls" with my cousin, chasing sheep, corn fresh from the field now steaming on my plate, friends that continue to walk through life with me that I met in college, green, and a simpler way of life.
We arrived in Omaha late Friday night with about an hour drive in front of us to our hotel in downtown Lincoln. I think when all was said and done Husband and I fell asleep around 2:00 AM (which would now be Saturday!) We woke up about 5 hours later to get ready to meet my friend, Stacy, at the Farmer's Market in the Historic Hay Market District in downtown Lincoln. This, too, has many memories of good food found in the market always accompanied by coffee from "The Mill." It was a little rainy that Saturday morning but that did not fuss-up our plans by any means. Afterwards, Husband and I followed Stacy to checkout her new house. Yes, Stacy is now a homeowner... what fun! When we said our good-byes we made our way out to Central City where we would meet up with my family for the weekend.
When we arrived we found my dad (who had been in the area for several days by this time), my aunt (who is a permanent resident of Central City), and my cousin Lynn with her husband Darren and children Elliot (5), James (3), and Andrew (1) from Omaha. It was quite the entourage. We had lunch and then headed to my grandmother's house to go through some things before we put the rest to auction and sell the house. (Some of you may wonder what happened to grandma... nothing... she has been in long-term care for awhile now and has told us that it is time to sell the house and stuff). It was an entertaining time of going through things and discovering items that belonged to my family from back in the day (1870's, etc!) We even discovered my great-grandmother's wedding dress that will be 100-years old in January. There are several things that will be donated to local museums which is fun. It was an afternoon filled with memories indeed and stories of old being told to the younger generations to hopefully be carried on.
Memorial Day (formerly Decoration Day - many of the older folk still call it this) is a big deal in small town Nebraska. At least the town my family is from. Palmer is where my mom grew up. When we went out to the cemetery where my mom, grandpa, and many other family are buried. They were getting ready for Decoration Day. All the military headstones had special markers, all the flags were flying, and many were out adding flowers to veterans memorials. It was quite a scene. I know that the local Methodist church was holding special services that Sunday evening (because we went to church there Sunday... it's where my parents were married and several family funerals have been held there, and my grandpa helped build it - we saw several friends and family there as well), and there would be a parade of sorts on Monday and a big social lunch at the American Legion. We didn't go out to all the festivities, although we thought about it because many family and friends would be there, but it was interesting to see all the prep going into Memorial Day. Monday we opted to sleep a little later, eat a late breakfast, and hang out with my dad and aunt. It was good times.
We got to spend some time with my grandma which was fun and heartbreaking all at the same time. She is losing her memory... not from any ailment other than the fact that she is 98-years old and there's not a lot of input to keep her mind sharp as she has a hard time hearing and cannot read anymore as she is almost completely blind. But when we went back to see her on our way out of town... it seemed like she was having a better day and remembered who we were and that we were in fact leaving. It made me feel a little better.
Somewhere in the midst of the trip we accomplished two things on the side... We ate at Runza's and we all went to the local Dairy Queen. The Dairy Queen here in Maricopa lacks something that the one in Central City (or even Crete) has... I think it's a community feel... hometown-ish. I don't know how to exactly describe it... but it was wonderful. But it also made me laugh because on the whiteboard sign inside they posted they had a new "side" option and it was "Potata Salad" I laughed... welcome to small town America. :)
Now we are home... we came back late Monday night (home in Maricopa about 9:30 PM) and we are glad to be home. Lot's of things to do this week.....
... and again, I will try not to let a month slide by without posting.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
While Monday was the day after the Lord's Day/Sabbath Day and we were by no means feeling the effects of intense adversity. However, we did celebrate the provision of a new job for Husband. It seems that the Lord continues to confirm the decision to leave his previous position and move on. So, in the words of a very wise Nancy Wilson there was great cause to really celebrate and "buy a better cut of meat."
In an attempt to surprise Husband I bought some steaks at AJ's along with some fingerling potatoes, onion, and mushroom (my husband loves them... me, not so much!) We grilled up the steaks and the potatoes, onion, and mushroom. I enjoyed a salad as well. We had a lot of food which means leftovers! Husband enjoyed an Irish beer that we found at AJ's on Saturday and then he made me a midouri sour. Good times.
So, we celebrated in the goodness of the Lord for His continual provision for our household. What a sweet, sweet time. Made even better by the fact that we also enjoyed our meal on our back patio in the cool spring weather evenings.
Yes, there will be an Ireland update soon. :)
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
It's been fun and when my fun friend, Karen, was here last week visiting from Colorado (by way of New Mexico) not only did she bring us some much desired green chile she also helped me with some touch-ups in the paint and some other odd jobs around the house. Now, there is only the ledge left to do and I will do that later when we return from vacation. The picture here is me in the ledge when Matt and I were just applying the primer.
Here is yet another picture of me in the ledge with our very pink primer up on the walls. Let's just say that moving forward in faith was tested as the first coat of paint was a little crazy. We kept telling ourselves, "It'll get better.." We started to doubt that mantra as coats two and three were applied. Well, we didn't have to do a full fourth coat but there were places that definitely needed some help.
What had been driving me crazy, too, was the fact that the blue tape would stick in a way that when I peeled it off it would bring some of the paint up with it. Can you say frustrating? Indeed it was. However, I read that if you score the tape all will seem right in the world. Karen helped me with that and it did in fact work and I am so excited not to have a blue tape accent in my kitchen anymore.
With all that to say, here is a glimpse into the pretty much finished product (this was before Karen came so there is some blue tape.) A better picture yet to come?
I was trying to give you the effect of the color on our main walls as well which is called "Cracked Wheat."
More painting projects to come but they will have to wait until we return from Ireland! It's hard to believe that we leave tomorrow... we've been planing this for months and it's finally here.
We have yet to pack... go figure. And I am trying to get some things cleaned up so that we can at least come home to a clean house. I am such a girl. :)
We will have a lot of pictures I am sure and we hope to do a better job of uploading those to our flickr site when we return than we have been about doing that for some other events like our trip to Flagstaff my birthday, painting, Amanda's Bachelorette party, and other things. Those will be uploaded when we return, too.
Monday, March 19, 2007
On Friday I turned 28! I love my birthday and I love other people's birthday's, too! My dad called early in the morning, I barely had rolled out of bed and Husband was in the shower... early. The day progressed with fun messages from people here on the site, Facebook, phone calls, and cards in the mail from a variety of fun people.
I was showered with some fun gifts from family in the form of a couple of gifts cards to J.Jill, a fun Kermit The Frog book, and a fun little cake from my neighbor.
In the evening, Husband took me to dinner at the Charthouse in Scottsdale. It was very lovely. There we had the wonderful salad, crab cakes, and delighted in the mud pie. There Husband gave me some very lovely gifts. I had been thinking about a new bible and Husband had picked up on that and purchased the Reformation Study Bible with my new married name printed on the front. Along with this practical gift came a lovely string of pearls. Ahhhh pearls... can make a fancy outfit complete and can make a casual outfit a little more dressy.
Saturday, we had lunch at Waffle House...a birthday wouldn't be complete without it!
We also planted our new little plants on Saturday... I think they like their new homes.
I had a great birthday... and cards are still coming in... so, I guess the party has been extended!
My birthdays tend to leave quite an impression (especially the last couple of years) but each one has been quite distinct and I love that they create a lasting memory for me.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
For the first time EVER I locked my keys in my car after having a lovely lunch with my wonderful husband. I headed over to Home Depot to return some items and pick up paint samples for our accent wall (by the way paint is on sale this weekend! SCORE!) Only to have to call my husband and ask him to come unlock my car for me. Thankfully, Husband always carries my keys with him. Way to always be prepared, my love! The funny thing was that I noticed my keys locked in my car as soon as I closed the door. What a day.
As for Valentines day... Husband and I really celebrated a day early. It's great... no one goes out the night before and the resturants are EMPTY! Lovely. :) We enjoyed a most delightful dinner at the Compass Room that was reminicent of our time in Seattle for our honeymoon when we ate at the Space Needle. Gotta love the rotating views of beautiful cities!
Tonight we are going to make lasagna tonight (Husband's recipe is my favorite!) with salad and bread. We will probably rent a movie or something. Fun times at home.
More later... but funny things that should be shared with all.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
On Sunday, our church took pause to reflect on the last year and to celebrate the 9th anniversary of our church (It's hard to think that I have been involved for about a year now). We took time to reflect on where we have been... almost like when God would command the people to build an alter so that the Israelites would remember the things that He has done and that it would be remembered through the genenerations. We remembered what things God has done among our congregation in the last year(s).
There was a testimony time and it was a sweet time to look into the hearts of the people as they shared joyous times and also hard times... but through it all we saw the story of God's faithfulness, justice, love, and glimpses of how He brought glory to Himself through joys and trials. Husband and I were asked to be prepared to share. What we thought would be "fairly simple" was quite emotional. To give you a peek in for those who were not able to be with us there... Husband shared how we were thankful for the way that God brought us together, the way in which He had uniquely prepared us to accept the things of our past, how the church family made me feel so at home, and a few other things. I then talked more about the church family and the women in our church, two little girls who have endeared themselves to my heart (and how we celebrate that one was there to celebrate with us because we thought we would lose her a couple of weeks ago), and then we thank our pastor for how he shows us the love of the church in such a powerful way.
There was more, but it would take more than my lifetime to list it all here. It was such a sweet time in honoring the Lord for what He does and continues to do in the midst of His Body at Emmanuel.
We are to be a thankful people... how often does that slip from our minds when we are in the midst of a "want-tantrum."
I think that I will ponder over this last Sunday evening for awhile. What a wonderful reminder that it's not about us...
What are you thankful for?
Saturday, January 20, 2007
We do in fact now have heat in our house. Thanks to many of you for asking!
We had no heat for one night and our house dropped down to about 59 degree and the next morning we had on all the lights trying to warm it up a bit. Husband worked from home so he could take care of things with the gas people and I ran around the house trying to get all of our Christmas decorations away for the next 10 months or so (nutty!) Oddly enough, the gas people never stopped by our house! We realized they had restored everything to our neighbors house so we opted to light our pilot lights ourselves. So, about 2:00 PM on Tuesday there was heat radiating through our home and my hands started to defrost.
So, there you have that update...
In other news we will be heading to Austin around March 31 for my sweet friend Amanda's wedding. FUN! In other travels, it's official, we will be heading to Ireland in April for about 9 days. We are super excited for the upcoming adventure... Ireland we are coming "home!" (Our last name is an Irish name and I am Scotch-Irish, my original last name was McIntosh and my ancestors changed it when they came here for a variety of reasons to Tash)
We have been listening to the speakers from the Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference (that was held Jan 8-10) and the theme was the "Great Commission." They are quite interesting and have caused some fun discussion between Husband and I. We can't wait to listen to more... We have only heard the first three... more to come!
until next time...
Monday, January 15, 2007
Okay, so I know that some of you may just think "whatever, you live in Arizona... suck it up."
Humor me for a moment...
Husband and I ventured up to Prescott this weekend and then took a fun little drive up to Sedona and Flagstaff. The trip to Flag was to allow me to play in the snow for a bit... which was quite fun! Well, as we returned to the Valley of the Sun the temperatures were indeed getting warmer (not much) than the higher altitudes. We looked forward to coming home to our warm cozy home.
For those of you that don't know Arizona and much of the west is experiencing an unexpected cold snap (Californians afraid they will lose $1 billion in citrus) with below freezing temperatures the last couple of nights and the same expected for tonight.
Back to our story... we arrived home to find our house slightly chilly and the heater and water heater not working properly. The final test was the gas stove... no go. We did some calling and "investigative" surfing on the net to find that there is a gas outage in the area due to the colder temperatures and the higher demand on the gas source. Nice. The house is staying at a toasty 63 degrees right now (with all the lights on) and outside right now about 41... temps dropping.
Not as bad as some of my friends in the Midwest who haven't had power for three days... but it's kind of entertaining... ha ha ha ha!! You just gotta laugh.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
What a year 2006 was and we have so much to look forward to in 2007. As I reflect on 2006 it has been a year full of blessings and learning. Sometimes I laugh at where I was and where I am now. Things like dating Husband, then breaking up with him in January, and then getting back together at the end of January... and a few short months later we were engaged and then married. WOW. I have learned a lot about myself, about Husband, and a lot about the sovereignty of God through our relationship. I look forward to learning even more...
...I traveled a lot, too! So did Husband. Back and forth for the both of us between Phoenix and Albuquerque. Husband made his first international trip to Japan. He was able to visit the CREC church there which is pretty cool. For me, I was all over the place in the months leading up to our wedding. I was in Gettysburg, PA for a conference that took place in various locations on the battlefield, New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina Relief, Alaska (where I met incredible people and watched God do amazing things in lives of cadets from around the country), and a sundry of other places. Together Husband and I traveled to Nebraska to visit my family, to Colorado for his family reunion, Seattle for our honeymoon, San Diego for a conference, and most recently he took me on my first trip to Disneyland with a side trip back to San Diego. Again... WOW.
2007 looks to be promising in the area of travel as well... we hope to go to the Grand Canyon (which will be a first for me - most of my travel has been to the eastern part of the US and Europe), back to Nebraska and Colorado to visit our Grandparents, Ireland, and we will find out at the end of the month if we head back to Japan. (Not to worry... there will be trips to New Mexico, too!)
There are at least four weddings on the calendar (one of which I am in) and we are excited for the next chapters of our friend's lives. One of Husband's Christmas gifts to me were tickets to the March Josh Groban concert... so we look forward to that. I always look forward to birthday's and other celebrations, too.
I think the thing that we look forward to the most is growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. We are excited about what He will be doing in our lives - we know that joy and sadness awaits... but we await it all in eager anticipation because He is in control and ultimately SOVEREGIN over all.
2007... I think it will be a great year.