Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Start at the Very Beginning

Plus ten points if you sang the title of this post in your head.

A long time ago, my mom suggested that I make manicotti. I didn't have much cooking experience at the time, but clueless as to what I was getting myself into, I agreed.  We went to Kroger and bought the box of pasta. Since we aren't Italian and don't have a family recipe, we read the ingredients and procedures list from the back of the blue Barilla box.

After unloading the groceries from the back of the car, my mom gave me the ingredients and told me to have at it.  I remember reading the instructions, boiling the pasta, mixing the cheeses, putting them into a large plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner, and layering each and every piece.  It probably took me two hours at least to finish, and the end result was much closer to lasagna than manicotti.  I overcooked my pasta, and they split down the middle.  I remember it was delicious.

I read this blog post about manicotti and the comforting effect that it has on the author. I was feeling nostalgic, so I decided I needed to make some for myself.  Like old times, it took way longer than it should have to finish it up, and my pasta ripped.  I don't really care though.  It makes me think of times gone past--where my love for food started to first develop.

My heart is so full right now.

Recipe from Yummy Books.

I cheated and used frozen spinach and jarred marinara.  It turns out wonderfully either way. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On Waiting and Trust

I know things have been quiet around here lately, and I am sorry for that.  I've had some thoughts about my blog and have come to the realization that (duh) quality > quantity.

Another thing that I have been thinking about is waiting.  Gosh, is there anything so hard? We live in a world obsessed with "now" and "in the moment." You know what I'm about to say next: Patience is a virtue.  That might be the hardest thing to deal with.

God has taught me so many lessons involving trust and patience recently.  And when I say "taught," I really mean "thrust upon." That's the way it usually goes, isn't it? If you think about it, no one really wants to learn that lesson.  I know that I sometimes live in a constant mindset of I have to do this on my own and This is what I want, and I think that now is exactly when I need it.  

As I was getting William's breakfast ready the other morning, his reaction to the situation really shocked me.  It's funny how young children can teach such important lessons to us just because they are humans in the newest, rawest form.  They don't have filters, so we get to see human nature at its finest!

Every morning after a diaper change, I sit William into his chair and get his bottle out.  Every morning, he reaches his arms out and cries out in desire for his breakfast.  I fill the bottle, shake the contents, and grab a bib from the cabinet.  I see how he looks at me.  The look of Are you really going to feed me this morning? is always in his eyes.  He shouts nervously as I wrap the bib around his neck.  When the bottle finally touches his lips, he calms down and everything is right again.

Although I am an adult who no longer has to rely on people to feed me, I got such a clear picture of how I feel all the time. I see what I want, and I go after it.  When I can't reach it or it isn't coming to me, I inwardly (sometimes vocally) cry out in frustration. (I should mention that I'm talking about desires of my heart, not jars of Nutella in the grocery store, although that could be a perfectly reasonable response to that situation.) I think to myself, What am I doing wrong? Why is this not happening like I want? Then it hits me. 
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." -1 Peter 5:7 
"But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.'"-

Isaiah 43:1

Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we are blinded by what we want.  We don't see the things we need.  Just like William, who needs a bib to keep from ruining his clothes, I have been introduced to people recently who God used to show me things that I really needed to see.  I was so caught up in thinking about what I wanted that He just came and gave me a kick in the right direction.  

This past Sunday's sermon was (in my mind) written for me.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  If you have an extra half hour (hello commute to work!) please download this and listen to it.  You can find it here

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I am not athletic.  I shied away from the active games at church and school. When forced to play sports, I always got picked last and only for numbers.  It also doesn't help that I detest running.  I've never been running and enjoyed it.  Even running to catch an international flight is not fun.  I've always thought that instead of muscles, my body was made of noodles and Jell-O. Naturally, when it came to fitness, I really didn't want anything to do with it.  I've never relied on working out to keep a certain weight.  The closest thing to fitness classes I'd ever done was Wii Fit. And let's be honest, that's not the real deal.

Then, I heard about Holy Yoga.  The classes meet at my church several times a week, and I have been every week since the beginning of the semester. My work schedule didn't allow me to attend any of the first classes.

Now I'm hooked.

Maybe I'm the only one, but the thought of going to a yoga class was really intimidating to me.  I had done one class before while on a vacation to Colorado, but I hadn't ever taken it up.  I was expecting the class to be full of hardcore yogis who only shop at Whole Foods and who would be judging my downward dog.  Boy was I wrong! I was welcomed with open arms.  We begin each class with deep breathing, a passage from Scripture, and meditation on what we just heard.  There is soft sacred music in the background as we flow through warrior, chair, bridge, and child's pose.  After an hour of twisting, stretching, and positioning, we lay silently on our mats and meditate on the Word.

Mindy and Molly, the instructors, do an excellent job including everyone.  I was welcomed with open arms at my first class and was encouraged to come back for every class they offer.  I'm not going to lie, the class is hard, but the rewards are incredible.  Everyone is encouraged to do only what they feel comfortable with and what their bodies will allow. There's no shame if you have to drop to your knees during a plank.

I've attended four classes so far, and I can already feel the change both mentally and physically.  I couldn't even touch my toes the first time I went, but now, I am able to touch my finger tips to the floor during a forward fold.  I realize now that I am strong.  My body is capable of so much more than I give it credit for! I look forward to challenging my muscles is new ways every class period.  I feel confident going into the room, unrolling the mat, and settling into the flow.

The beginning of the year is known as a time of self-improvement.  We tend to criticize the beautiful bodies that we have been blessed with and make change everything about our appearance.  I know that I am so guilty of that! One thing that Holy Yoga has taught me is to love my body just the way that it is.  As Christians, we are told that our bodies are temples, precious to God.

So if you're looking for a way to worship God, get fit, meditate on Scripture, and fellowship with other beautiful women, give Holy Yoga a chance. The details for the classes can be found here and here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Shepherd's Pie

Well Memphis friends, it is cold outside. There is a little bit of ice, and I think we have all freaked out enough.  I know I overreacted a little bit.  You know what? I am going to keep overreacting. I am going to keep pretending like there is seven feet of snow outside, and I am going to love every minute of it.

When you are imaginary-snowed-in, you eat comfort food. You eat something stick-to-your-ribs-like.

I've been making shepherd's pie for about a year now.  I always thought that it was too involved and came out lacking in flavor.  Then I found a recipe that uses Guinness. As you already know, that is basically my favourite thing to cook with, so I gave it a shot.  It was good, but there was something lacking.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the best shepherd's pie ever.  It's packed with beef, veggies, starch, cheese, and flavor.  We will be having a salad along side ours, but really, this has all your food groups in one Pyrex. No real need for the greens.

Shepherd's Pie

This makes two family-sized portions.  You can half the recipe, or you can make two and save the second for later in the week.  If you feed people like I do on Monday nights, this will be enough for 5 adults and 1 teenage boy.

For the meat layer:
2 lbs. ground beef
1 diced onion
2 bottles Guinness
1 can green beans
2 cans corn
2 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tb. cornstarch

For the mashed potato topping:
2 1/4 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
1/3 c. heavy cream
2 Tb. butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt

2-3 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef in a large pot (pasta size--this makes a lot). Drain the beef and set to the side.  In the pot, add the diced onion and one bottle of the Guinness. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the beef, green beans, corn, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and second bottle of Guinness.  Bring to a simmer and sprinkle in the cornstarch.  Simmer until the mixture thickens.  Separate into two baking dishes.

Peel and cube the potatoes, and boil them until soft.  In a stand or hand mixer, combine the tatties, cream, butter, and salt.  Whip 'em until they're fluffy.

Divide the potatoes and spread on top of the beef layer.  Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.  Bake on 400 until the top is bubbly and golden.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Rwanda 2013

Can we talk about how January is almost over? How I am so busy that my computer hasn't been turned on since last Tuesday? How the amount of time spent on things goes work>friends>sleep?

Guys, I have been adjusting to the new schedule for this semester, and it is a monster.  Things have been quiet around here because I've been working 40-45 hours a week.  Add 5.5 hours of choir to that, seeing friends, and maybe catching a snooze in between, and you have a recipe for a full, wonderful life.  Don't get me wrong.  I am loving every second, but blogging is going to the back burner for now.

I had an amazing weekend spent almost in whole with some amazing people.  We went to the Memphis Grizzlies game on Friday night--which let me say, was a nail-biting-sweaty-palm-we-might-lose kind of game, but we came out on top in the end--then pizza, iceskating, and game time Saturday, and a couple hours of more intense board-gaming, and conversing Sunday night.  If I were a good blogger, you would be able to see lots of pictures from our activities, but I'm not.  I apologize.

Things might be quiet a little while longer until I can squeeze some time (or find some extra hours in the day--sleep is for the weak, right?) out for blogging.  I hope you all have a great day off, and that you find some time to do things that don't normally happen during the week!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dublin: The Sights

Ah Dublin. You sure did give two girls the weekend of a lifetime.  That city will have a special place in my heart for the rest of my life.  I've divided the Dublin experience into two posts: sights and food.  To be fair, we did a lot of eating and just walking around.  We went in with zero expectations, and left with hearts full of new memories. 
 On the second day, we walked to the Temple Bar area.  Once we arrived at the actual pub, we decided to disregard (partially) what Noel, our cab driver told us.  We went in for a half pint, paid our 9 euro, and enjoyed the moment.  We went in the middle of the day, so there weren't very many people inside.  Honestly, it seemed like a typical pub to us.  It is definitely neat to say that you've been there, but I wouldn't put it on a must-do list.  We enjoyed the Temple Bar area tremendously.  It is full of historic buildings, cobblestone streets, plants hanging from the sides of storefronts, modern businesses and restaurants.

 There's obviously another angel statue staring this one down. Don't blink.
 We stumbled upon this amazing little shop called FIND. Filled with items both vintage and new, Megan and I could have purchased everything inside. If you're in Dublin and looking for china, bunting, happies, and small furniture items, you definitely need to check this store out.
On Saturday, we went to see a stage production of Pride and Prejudice at Gate Theater. We happened upon the box office Friday afternoon and bought the last two tickets! Since we are Jane Austen's biggest fans, we were chuffed to get to see the stage version of our favourite story! It did not disappoint.  The venue was absolutely gorgeous, the actors were brilliant (including the gorgeous Sam O'Mahony who played Mr. Darcy), and we had a wonderful afternoon! If you're currently in the Dublin area, hurry up and buy your tickets!

 After Pride and Prejudice and dinner on Saturday, we decided to try out a bit of the famous Dublin nightlife. Again, that did not disappoint.  I'll talk a bit more on that in the food post.  The night was completely successful and I did wind up with a guy's phone number.  If you're reading this, Mark, sorry I didn't call!
 We went and actually toured the Dublin Castle on Sunday afternoon.  There was a choir from Dublin University singing inside the entrance to the palace.
 I have no idea who this guy is, but he looks really uncomfortable.
 There was a 5-minute excerpt of The Nutcracker that was playing in one of the rooms.  There were live dancers and everything! The whole palace was decorated in Nutcracker-themed Christmas decor.
 This was our last night together! After being with each other for almost a month straight, it was definitely sad to have our final moments!
 After Megan left on Monday, I set out to do some touristy things on my own.  The top thing on my list was to visit some cathedrals.  Unfortunately, St. Patrick's Cathedral was closed that day, but St. Patrick's park next to the church was open.

 I passed the Christ Church Cathedral on my way to St. Patricks.  This one was open for visiting that day, so I paid my 6 euro and went in.
 Touring churches and cathedrals is one of my favorite things to do.  It is incredible to see all the houses of worship where Christians have worshiped God for hundreds of years.  The great detail that is put into old cathedrals reminds me of the Temple that King Solomon built for the glory of God.

As you know, I have a special place in my heart for choir and worshiping God through music.  This plaque brought me to tears thinking about all the musicians through the history of the world making music for the purpose of glorifying God.

       "To commemorate an eminent family of musicians whose rare gifts and culture were devoted to the glory  ofGod in this cathedral church and whose personal dignity and noble compositions added lustre to the art which for upwards of a century they were foremost in promoting."

I also went by on Monday to see the remains of the place when Handel's Messiah was first performed.  Unfortunately, there's nothing left of the original building except the archway to the courtyard.  It was still amazing to see the place where something dear to my heart was first debuted.