Monday, May 31, 2010

Salsa

Today Jeff's family is having a little get together out at the pool, and I'm contributing my homemade salsa to the festivities. I have taken PW's Salsa and tweaked it just slightly. I hope you'll be as pleased with the results as I was!

1 lg (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 sm (16 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 sm (16oz) can Rotel
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced onion
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 lime juiced
1 tsp. taco seasoning

Just toss everything into the blender and pulse it until there are no more big chunks and you can't resist the temptation to dive in! It really does get much better if you let it sit for at least an hour!

If you want to make your own tortilla chips, cut corn tortillas into sixths or eights and fry in 325 degree oil for about 5 minutes in small batches (basically one tortilla at a time). Drain them on paper towels and salt if desired.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Family


I suppose I have finally reached the moment that in many ways I feared and in other ways I looked forward to reaching. I am an "adult" in the eyes of my family. I am "independent". And as such, they really see no need to include me in anything anymore. I love that I am seen as an adult. I love that they at least attempt to give the impression of respecting the fact that my husband's and my relationship comes first. But it still hurts to feel rejected and cast aside because I'm not little and cute anymore.

I'll come right out and say it. I'm stinking jealous of my brother. Because he is still included. He is still wanted. He is still invited. But suddenly now that Jeff and I are a package deal, we're only an obligatory afterthought. I know he has had more chances to cultivate a relationship with them because of his physical proximity the past several years. But now Jeff and I are close. Closer than we've ever been. Almost as close as John is. And I keep trying to let them know I still want to be a part of their collective lives, but it's just not happening. I am trying to not force myself into stuff that isn't "extended" family, but I still want to make my presence known. I really don't know what I can do.

As much as they can irritate me and as many jokes as I like to make about it, I love my family more than just about anyone else in the whole world. I would cut out my own heart and give it to any one of them if it was needed. They are responsible for making me who I am today - good, bad, and goofy. Those moments of laughter and memories and stories are the things that feed my soul. I don't have many friends who are close any more. I NEED my family now. I need for Jeff to know them and for them to know him. And one day I need them to be a part of my children's lives as well. But it doesn't look like that is going to happen, especially if things keep going the way they are going right now.

It's probably really pathetic and selfish of me, but the thing that seemed to push me over the edge was a baseball game. We had expressed interest in going to a game with them in the not-so-distant past. We spent the better part of a day hanging out and visiting. And it wasn't until that afternoon that we found out they were going to a game and we were decidedly not invited. We would have been happy to buy our own tickets and meet everyone there and do whatever it was that we needed to do, but we weren't even asked. And it's like a punch in the gut. It makes me almost sick to my stomach.

They're all at the beach right now. I would have loved to go down. I would have loved to have gotten a hotel room nearby and hung out during the day or gone to dinner. But I wasn't invited. I knew they were going sometime in the summer but never knew exactly when until last week. Had we known, we could have made it happen. I would have been happy to pitch in a hundred bucks and bring an air mattress and spend one night on the floor! Even now, I'd love to drive down for a day to see everyone. I'd probably spend more time in the car than at the beach, but I just want to spend a little time with everyone. But I sit back and realize that absolutely reeks of desperation and ultimately won't change anything. John is invited. I'm not. I have to accept that.

I know I probably make it worse on myself by fighting this so hard. But I can't help it. That's what you do when you love people. I try to convince myself it'll be ok because they'll want to see us more when we have kids and their kids are older and they're not as busy, but I doubt that is actually the case. Even if it was, I don't know that I could ever be ok with the knowledge that I'm only wanted for my uterus, or worse, that this same torture could one day befall my children.

I love Jeff's family and I'm very fortunate that they have included me in the family. But it's not the same as my family. I miss my family.

I guess things will ultimately come down to Thanksgiving this year. Stay tuned...

Black Robes and Sequin Shoes


As a pastor, I have had a really hard time with the attire thing. I dress casually for most things. Jeans and a cute top (I try not to wear the random t-shirts if I think I will see other people!) Even for worship I have more people show up in jeans and t-shirts than anything else. My husband is usually the only one who wears a tie. On Easter Sunday we both had on nice suits and everyone looked absolutely shocked because that just isn't the culture of this congregation. But somehow, some way I feel that something is not quite right for me.

Throughout my Divinity School experience, attire came up on multiple occasions. My CPE group (near the end) had a discussion about clothing, particularly wearing skirts. Not super-short skirts, but skirts in general where any leg could be seen. Then there was the discussion of wearing open-toed shoes and how a friend and all her colleagues were forbidden from wearing open-toed shoes to serve communion because a church member complained that seeing a person's toes was distracting. We got a good laugh out of that one because we said that if a person could be distracted by seeing a person's toes while they were taking communion, their minds weren't on the right things to begin with. I agree whole-heartedly.

And yet I find myself fearful of what I wear. I don't want to wear open-toed shoes. I wear more black than anything. I want to set a good example. I want to be professional. I don't want to distract anyone. I want to do what ministers are supposed to do.

While I was at East End, I once wore a pair of gold sequined shoes. They were cute, comfy, and went well with my brightly colored outfit. The pastor made the comment that they were the perfect shoes to be seen peeking out from under a robe. At the time I was shocked at the notion. Since then I have seen lots of great photos of female ministerial gatherings, and in many of them they are all from the knees down. All area usually wearing robes with a zillion different kinds of shoes. Some are basic and practical, but with fun socks. Some are brightly colored. Some have crazy-high heels. Some are sandals. Some are flip-flops! Some are sequined. All are different and all are perfect for their individual wearers. I want to be gutsy enough to wear my sequined shoes to church!

I am committed that, in the next year, I am going to set some new personal and professional boundaries for myself. But within that, I am going to give myself a little more freedom to move and to breathe and to be myself. And this may mean that a pair of sequined flip-flops are in order...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Smell the Color 9

When I was in high school, one of my favorite songs was "Smell the Color 9" by Chris Rice. If you haven't heard it, please go listen to it right now. I felt like it was written just for me because it describes so perfectly what was going on in my life when it came out. I was a teenage bundle of mess, but at least I was honest about it!

This song has remained one of my favorites. Every time I hear it, the sort of "whoosh" at the beginning prompts me to take a deep breath and then exhale. And if you have ever spent more than 30 seconds around me, it is pretty obvious that I need that reminder (probably more frequently than I get it!) It stirs something in me. It has always been on my iPod in one playlist or another, but for some reason I haven't heard it much in the past couple of years.

Today, I finally heard it again. As I crawled through the crazy southbound traffic at 2pm, I got a really good chuckle out of the line "and I've never heard the calling..." because I can't really say that anymore. At the same time, I remember that feeling of desperately wanting to hear God's call on my life and at the same time fighting so furiously against it (because deep down I wanted to hear God speak my choices!) There was the constant battle between the fear of never knowing, seeing, or being reassured and the fear of having to cross that line and no longer be able to deny anything.

I need more of this song in my life. Not because I still need the validation it gives for the questions and fears, but because it reminds me of that hunger that absolutely consumed my life. Everything I did was consumed by that deep hunger, that longing to be in the presence of God, even for a fleeting moment. Looking back now, those moments of searching were some of the most holy of my life. Even in Divinity School, those times spent exploring were so incredibly life-giving I probably wouldn't have survived without them.

I miss my traveling companions. I crave time with my fellow wanderers. I continue to seek explorers and adventurers who will allow me to tag along on their journeys. And with the strum of a few guitar strings, I feel that little twinge of hunger beginning to grow once again.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Five - I Would Put My Hand in the Fire For That


Today's "Friday Five" from the RevGalBlogPals is essentially asking for the things that you are passionate about and the thing/causes/people you are willing to speak out or act on their behalf. It really is something important to think about and ask yourself from time to time. Would I put my hand in the fire for that? Do I care enough to risk my self and my well-being for this? Should I care enough to risk my self and my well-being for this? These are the things I would currently put my hand in the fire over.

My Family - I will fight to the death for my family. I might not always like them but I will absolute, positively always love them and do anything they need. I would take out my own heart and give it to them if I thought it was needed! This includes my extended family, in-laws, out-laws, and "adopted" family.

Passion - It's not surprising that passion is contagious. Far too many people and causes in the world have become so cynical and jaded about life in general. Causes don't mean much any more because everyone and everything has a cause and a ribbon and a sticker and a t-shirt. But when I see people truly passionate about something, that makes me passionate as well. I guess this one is two-fold. I will fight to help others discover their passion and to see people passionate. I also become passionate about their passion, and their cause becomes my cause as well.

Universal Human Rights - It seems so simple and yet seems to have been forgotten by so many. People are people. No matter where they come from, no matter what they look like. All people deserve a few basic human rights. The biggest thing is that they have the right to a safe and healthy life including food, clothing, shelter, and basic education as well as access to all privileges that have been earned. I could get on a major soapbox about all kinds of things here, but I will save that for another day and time. Suffice it to say, this pretty much covers all your "isms" and most of your "abuses".

Respect - This could probably fall into the previous category, but I'm going to pull it out for the sake of this because it deserves to be mentioned specifically and independently. Regardless of whether or not you like or agree with a person, cause, whatever you should respect them as people who are entitled to their own opinion. Say "please" and "thank you". Don't argue. Don't be mean. Don't curse. Don't even joke about death, killing, or violence in any form. And for the love of all that is good in life, please turn down your music and pull up your pants! Thank you!

Animal Rights - This one is a newly discovered passion because even now it is hard for me to understand how anyone could abuse or neglect an animal. But I know that it happens and it is something that should be addressed. I'm not just talking about pets either. Although I'm not a vegetarian and don't know that I ever could be, I do recognize that there is a need for humane treatment of animals that are going to be eaten as well. Somewhere deep inside my heart I do believe that happy animals are better for everyone physically as well as mentally. I have no basis for this other than my own crazy mind, but I really do believe that humanely treated animals are better for you (and may even taste a little better).

So now you tell me the things for which you would put your hand in the fire!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

French Memo Board

I got a crazy idea at the beginning of the month. In all my boredom, I decided that making one of those ribbon memo boards for my cousin would be a nice graduation gift. Then I decided that since I was doing it for my cousin I should do one for Jeff's cousin, too. And it might be fun to make one for my office, too. Clearly, I can't do anything on a small scale. Well, the one for my office is still in the "to be accomplished" file, but these things are SO easy to make and lots of fun!

The supplies are pretty simple and flexible - a cork board, low loft batting, fabric, a stapler, ribbon, straight pins, and furniture nails. You can also use a frame if you want, or some black "furniture fabric" and mounting hardware.


I had to start by cutting my board in half. I bought one large (16 x 36) board and cutting it in half, so the individual boards are 16x18. You could certainly do this without a table saw (or just buy a board that is the right size to start with!) but I enjoyed getting to put my trusty assistant to work!

Start by cutting the batting to size. You can wrap it around the edge if you want, but Just having it come up to the edge worked best for me. I doubled it up to make it a little fluffier (you could use a thicker batting for this as well and achieve the same result).
Then cut the fabric and wrap it over the batting, pull it taut, and staple it to hold it. Start with a couple of staples in your corners to make sure you don't have any wrinkles and like the way it looks. It's a lot easier to pull out 2 or 3 staples than 10 or 12!

I did this next step a little out of order. It's definitely easier to iron on the applique (if you want it) before you staple on the fabric, but I got the fabric partially stapled and then ironed it on. It worked fine because I only had to get at the back of the one corner. Then finish stapling the fabric around the back. I used a small staple gun/tacker with 5/8" staples. Technically a simple office stapler would work, but again we had to break out the power tool! It actually made things a lot easier. I may have to go back and get a manual one I saw at Hobby Lobby just for my craft projects!

Now lay out your ribbon. You can use pretty much any kind of ribbon and space it however you would like. Both the fabrics I used had pretty distinctive patterns so that made it easier for me because I didn't need to fool with rulers and whatnot. Use the straight pins on the edge to hold the ribbons in place.

Now flip the board and staple the ends of the ribbon to the back. Just remove one straight pin at a time, make sure you pull the ribbon taut, and staple it. Working your way around is definitely the easiest.

Now put your furniture nails where the ribbons cross. They may poke out the back of the board a little if it's on the thinner side, which is fine, especially if you're going to attach the backing.

Just cut a piece of the backing slightly smaller than the back of the board. You want it to cover all your staples, but not be visible from the front. We used contact cement to attach it, but fabric glue would also work well. This will also protect your wall from scratches if the tips of the furniture nails are coming through. Then attach the hanger to the back if you want it.

I have enough fabric, ribbon, batting, and furniture nails to make at least two more small-ish boards. All I need is the board, which will run me less than $5. It's a great way to use up scraps of ribbon and fabric!

We have also been looking into the possibility of making these to sell at craft fairs and maybe on Etsy or in local gift stores. Let me know what you think and if this is something you'd buy! We're going to make several different sizes and will be happy to take requests for fabric and ribbon colors/patterns. Right now I think the new sizes will be 9x12, 12x12, 16x18, 24x36, and 8x24. We are going to try to put a small clock into the 8x24 just to do a little something different. Let me know if you want one!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.20


In honor of the fact that my anniversary was Sunday, I figured I'd write about my favorite things about marriage.

Sharing a bed - No, not in the biblical sense. I just love rolling over and seeing him asleep beside me or feeling the way he snuggles with me. It's more wonderful than I ever could have imagined.

Doing nothing - I love being able to spend a whole day with Jeff doing absolutely nothing. Whether it's riding around town or sitting at home, it's fantastic.

Sharing dinner - I love getting to pick off his plate or slide him things I don't want. I love having someone to share an order of onion rings and I even love when he steals my coke.

Learning new things - I love having someone in my life who can teach me new things. Whether it's about an area of town I'm not familiar or about cars and power tools. It's great having someone who is so different and can always tell me something I didn't know.

Imagining our future - I love being able to talk about our future. Sometimes it's where we want to go on vacation next summer and sometimes it's what we would like to do when we retire. Often it's somewhere in between - children and big trips and our next vehicles. It's great to have someone I can bounce ideas off of and hear what he's thinking.

Traveling together - Whether it's a cruise or a trip to the lake or just a night away from home. It's always more fun to have someone to talk to in the car and share the adventure and the memories.

Now it's your turn to tell me - if you're married, what is your favorite thing about marriage? If you're not married, what do you love about NOT being married?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Anniversary Traditions


I am a sucker for traditions. Ever since I found out that there was such a thing as a "traditional" anniversary gift, I got all excited. As I have learned more about them and have heard the neat ways people interpret these things, it has gotten me even more excited. So since I seem to have anniversaries on the brain this week (imagine that!) I thought I would share some of the "traditional" anniversary gifts (and some of the neat ideas) I have come across.

First - paper (traditional) or clocks (modern)
My friend Leah's husband got her a gift certificate for a day at the spa as her "paper" gift. I've always been partial to this one. Jeff's step-dad was just hell bent to get Jeff's mom a clock for their first anniversary. Jeff was envisioning a nice mantle clock (what he calls an anniversary clock, for good reason!) Ray ended up purchasing a travel alarm clock. I don't know if he'll ever redeem himself for that one! My "brilliant" idea was to get a beautiful ink print drawing of the house done to hang over the sofa or the mantle. Well, lack of funds and foresight prevented me from getting this done in time but alas... Other nice paper things might be personalized stationary, photographs, books, or tickets to something.

Second - cotton (traditional) or china (modern)
Obviously monogrammed sheets or something are a pretty typical "cotton" gift. I'm not sure about the china. One girl I know of decided to use a "cotton club" theme and purchase a nice bar cabinet for her husband and stock it. I believe she got some nice cocktail napkins for the "true" cotton element. I have thoughts, but we'll see what happens this time next year!

Third - leather (traditional) or crystal/glass (modern)
Leather is pretty easy - desk sets, wallets, shoes, picture frames, or something of a more personal nature... I haven't come across anything particularly innovative here so I am open to suggestions. Knowing Jeff he would appreciate something leather for the truck! This may be one time where I might dip into the more "modern" for something glass - a glass bottle of liquor, a crystal decanter, some monogrammed glassware. I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to take this as well.

Fourth - fruit/flowers (traditional) or appliances (modern)
Yeah, no insights here except the obvious. I guess you could find something creative with a fruit or floral pattern. Send one of those "edible arrangements" maybe. Planting a tree or a bush is always a good idea. I personally don't think that I would be happy getting a small appliance as an anniversary gift at this point. Getting one as a Christmas gift one year was pushing it!

Fifth - wood (traditional) or silverware (modern)
Furniture is always a good idea for wood. In Jeff's case, I would probably lean more toward something for wood-working (or something sentimental like plaque or frame). A cedar plank for grilling might be nice, planting a tree (if you didn't do that on year 4) or building something together could be fun. Maybe make a cabinet to keep all your lovely anniversary gifts in! On a smaller scale there are lots of nice wooden pens, desk sets, boxes, and knives.

And what did Jeff and I get one another for our first anniversary? Well, I decided to go with the traditional "paper" and got him a book. More specifically, I got the big Alabama National Championship yearbook. I know he wanted it and would never buy it for himself. I also got him one of those little head massager spider-looking things. I had one from a million years ago that got thrown out in the great purge and I know he kind of misses it. He got me a new purse and all-in-one wallet I've been really wanting from Vera Bradley. Mine wasn't a surprise because he asked me last week if I was sure about which one I wanted and I actually ordered it! It came via FedEx on Saturday. Being the smart-alleck that he is, he also got me a surprise "paper" gift - a package of printer paper! I laughed really hard when I opened that one. I'm tempted to put it away and keep it for 25 years! He also got me a box of goobers because, when we were dating, he used to bring me goobers all the time. Those were not saved. They were devoured quickly. At least I shared!

I also got us both a little something (although it's not really an anniversary gift, that was just a convenient excuse) - 24 oz "giant" Tervis Tumblers. You know, those super-cute double-walled glasses with all kinds of cute things in them? His has the AL national championship logo in it. Mine just has a hot pink "S". I also got the travel lid for mine because I like them (ok, I'm basically six and need lids on most of my drinks), but he didn't get a lid because he'd never use it if he had it!

So next year I'm expecting cotton balls...

Monday, May 24, 2010

J. Alexander's


Jeff and I chose to have our "going out" anniversary dinner at J. Alexander's. It isn't new, super fancy, or especially expensive. It is, however, very tasty and not a place we frequent, which made it great as a "special occasion" place.

The atmosphere is a really neat mix of rustic, almost lodge-feeling and trendy/modern. The food can really be defined in the same way. It's very unique and has to be experienced to be fully understood. I can honestly say I have no idea how they do it, but their service is really hard to beat. This particular time we probably saw "our" waitress about half the time someone was at our table. There were lots of different people delivering food, clearing plates, refilling drinks, and generally providing us with fantastic service.

As far as the food is concerned, I can honestly say I have never had anything I didn't like. Actually, I think I can safely say I haven't ever had anything I didn't love! The menu has changed a little over the years, and it has always been for the better. We started this particular dinner with the Mexico City Spinach Queso Dip which was really awesome. It was served with a small cup of their salsa (which is no longer available on its own) which is amazing. They put cucumber in it, which seems odd, but gives it a really good, refreshing quality and makes it perfect for summer. I may have to try putting cucumber in my salsa this summer!

For dinner Jeff got the Rattlesnake Pasta and a house salad with ranch dressing. He's had it before and it's good, but not as spicy as he would like. I tried it and think it's really good. Their house salad is probably one of his favorite restaurant salads anywhere. I got the pork tenderloin and it was absolutely amazing. It was grilled perfectly, sliced beautifully, and topped with a really great but VERY spicy sauce. Once I made sure I wasn't getting a fist-full of red pepper flakes in each bite, I really enjoyed it. It was served with an enormous pile of mashed potatoes. Their mashed potatoes aren't my favorite because I don't like the skins in them, but if that's your thing you are in luck! The flavor is still really fantastic.

The only thing I have never tried is dessert. Nothing has ever grabbed me as a "must try" on their dessert menu, but given the wonderful quality of everything else on their menu, I have no doubt that dessert would be the same. Other things I have tried and really enjoyed include the onion rings, chicken fingers, prime rib sandwich, and the steak and fries. Like I said before, I love it all!

J. Alexander's is a chain. It actually started in Nashville in 1991 and now has 33 locations in 13 states. It's definitely not everywhere, but it's also not specific to a particular geographic area. Although the different restaurants are similar, they are not identical, which is refreshing. The menu is also not identical from location to location. One of my favorite things at the Nashville-West End location was a version of a french dip made with their rotisserie chicken. Sadly, this isn't on the menu at the Birmingham location, but there are plenty of other fabulous things to keep my belly very happy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Confirmation and Celebration



I still vividly remember being in sixth grade and going through confirmation class. Despite being "forced" to do it, I really enjoyed it. I still have my little folder of lessons. I still remember drawing the different symbols for the trinity on the cover as we learned about them. That is probably one of my fondest memories of Dan Kitchens, who was probably one of the most influential ministers I ever had. He was a wonderful teacher.

I never really gave much thought to confirmation and what it means and what it looks like until this year when I started teaching confirmation. I have a unique challenge this year in that I am not teaching 6th graders who could care less or performing an initiation rite into the "fun stuff" of a larger youth group. I am teaching a group of teens, mostly high school age. Most of them were not raised United Methodist and had never even heard of "confirmation". I've used the curriculum from Cokesbury called "Claim the Name" but have tweaked it to fit our needs. So far it all has gone well and been well received.

The culmination of all of this is the confirmation service. Because I am a worship dork, this is something I began thinking long and hard about almost as soon as I made the decision to teach the class. Most religious traditions have some sort of "becoming an adult" ritual that is an important part of their tradition, but some make a bigger deal out of it than others. I remember my confirmation and it really wasn't THAT big a deal. Sure it was a special Sunday. Sure my grandmother came for it. I even got a small gift from my parents. But that was it. It wasn't the big party or the big deal that you see in some traditions.

I feel that confirmation is a very big deal. The ritual is important. The decision and the vows are something to be celebrated, just as the vows taken at a baptism or a wedding are celebrated. Even though a few of my youth that have been in this class were received from another tradition and were received as professing members at that time, to me it is still important to give them this ritual. On some level, even more than the ritual is the celebration!

Life is tough enough as it is. Especially if you are a teenager. There are so many demands on your time and attention and resources. We all need the chance to take a step back from that. To hear and feel good and positive things. There are lots of definitions for the word "confirm". The ones that seem most appropriate are, "to acknowledge with definite assurance," and "To add strength." Of course there is the obvious definition of administering a religious rite, but in many ways this part is secondary to me.

We all need to be confirmed from time to time. We all need to be acknowledged and strengthened. And most of all we need to be celebrated. Not with embarrassing moments in a restaurant or as an excuse for others to eat cake. We should be celebrated with true joy and laughter and praise for what has been, and is, and will continue to be.


One year ago today...


I was up at the crack of dawn. I was tired, but I was afraid of oversleeping so I went ahead and got up. I also wanted to make sure I was out of the shower before everyone else got up. I had stayed up way too late trying to get the thank you notes written for the gifts we received at the rehearsal dinner. As soon as I got out of the shower, I put them in the mailbox.

My hair and nail appointments started at 8. People were stirring and I was seeing family here and there. It was exciting. I could tell everyone was excited for me and I had a lot of fun. I was asking what Jeff was doing and he went touring town! I couldn't believe it. I'm glad he got that time with his family though.

I got to the church early and there were boy scouts selling what smelled like smoked meat of some sort. They saw me unloading lots of stuff and would run over and take turns holding the door for me, which was sweet. Finally one of them saw me with my dress and veil and asked "Is someone getting married today?" I don't think I stopped smiling after that and said "Yeah, me at 2pm. Y'all can come if you want!" I think that moment made it all real. I was running around a little crazy dealing with the little details at the reception. Now I can hardly remember what I was obsessing over!

We got my makeup done and I was just a bundle of energy and excitement. My wonderful bridesmaids actually put me in a time out! They made me just sit in a corner for a while and stop pacing to just think and enjoy the moment. After my required 5 minutes I think I was up pacing again, I just couldn't hold still! It felt like it took forever to get my dress all laced and tied. Normally I'm really self-conscious, especially about people watching me get dressed, but I think I had an audience of almost a dozen (including the three people it took to lower the dress over my head and two photographers documenting the whole thing!) and I could not have cared less!

Pictures were nice, but the hour between pictures and the ceremony was the longest of my life. I knew Jeff was upstairs and I was just dying to be with him and see him!

The ceremony was great. It seemed to go pretty quickly, but my feet were hurting by the time it was over because I had to stand perfectly still or else my dress would make noise!

The reception was nice and I enjoyed seeing everyone, but by that point I was DYING to sit down and have something to drink. I didn't care as much about eating, but I was SO thirsty! That dress weighed a ton and it was HOT! I think I had three layers on and it was 90 degrees outside! Sadly, sitting and drinking wasn't an option. Jeff and I did get some quiet, alone time when we took our pictures outside. Those ended up being my favorite pictures and my favorite part of the day.

After the reception I didn't think we'd ever get to leave, but was so glad when we finally did! We went back to the Brentwood house and I was able to FINALLY go to the bathroom and get a sprite. Jeff took some of the junk off the car. I said hi to the family and then we took off.

Before we could head to Birmingham, we had to stop at Auto Zone (just married sign and all!) so Jeff could replace a tail light. Checking into the hotel was such a relief because we could FINALLY eat and relax. We went to dinner at ICON, the restaurant in the Tutwiler (which is called something else now). I had a really great steak. I don't remember what Jeff had. It was all good.

And at the end of the day, I was Mrs. Herren!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Splish Splash

Today Jeff and I went over to his grandmother's to open up their pool for the summer. Normally this would have been done several weeks ago, but other projects have been higher on the priority list.

I really didn't think it was going to be that hard a job or that much work. Jeff has done it on his own for several years now. He had already done the major work of getting the house ready, so as it was described to me, it would mean removing the cover and adding the chemicals to get everything ready. Well, that was a big part of it, but certainly not all.

Part of the trouble started in the removing of the cover. It was covered with water and leaves and whatnot. Jeff removed all the blocks and everything else holding it in place and put the pump on it to pump off all the water. We could pick it up with the leaves and debris and just drag it to the side. Well, the weight of the water and the weight of the pump pulled it just far enough down that it got a lot more water on top. It wasn't going to all get pumped out, so we had to dump it all in the pool. This added to our work.

We had to run the vacuum to try and get lots of the mess out, skim off the big stuff at the top we could see, and collect a sample of the water to take to the pool supply place to be tested so we'd know what chemicals we needed and how much. I helped with all of this. We also had to wash the cover and fold it, scrub the muck off the sides, and power-wash the patio. I didn't help with any of that. Jeff took care of the chemical stuff, but I did help with the adding of baking soda. I felt kind of silly ripping into boxes of arm & hammer and dumping them into the pool, but it works!

There's still more to be done, but it's looking lots better. The water will be ready to dive into soon enough. One of my favorite "routines" last summer was that every couple of weeks we would pack up our stuff and the dogs and head over there. We'd stop at Whataburger for lunch, then spend the afternoon at the pool. I'm looking forward to more of that this summer. I guess because that is the majority of the times I have eaten Whataburger, but I always associate it with going swimming over there. I know, I'm a little bit nuts.

I have a new-found appreciation for what it takes to maintain a pool and totally understand why my dad never wanted one while we were growing up. I also understand why my step-mom now pays people to open and close her pool for her every year! I'd definitely lean towards door number two if I could! Then again, maybe I'll just stick to a hot tub!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Five - Disciplines

Today's Friday Five didn't have a series of questions, but instead invited participants to share about five different disciples or practices that are currently or formerly practiced, not necessarily spiritual or professional (although those are often an important part, too!) Here are some of mine.

Piano - From the ages 8 to 14 I took piano lessons. And just as she should have, my mom forced me to practice. There was a short time when I practiced excitedly, more than was required, every day because my teacher had a "practice" contest where you got stickers on a chart for each practice session. I got second place the first semester she did this, and first place the second (but never got my first place trophy. boo!) Nothing like a little motivation and positive reinforcement with a sprinkle of friendly competition to get me going! I'll have to remember that when I have kids...

Covenant Discipleship - I really loved being a part of a covenant discipleship group in divinity school. That was probably the most deliberate I have ever been about thinking about, determining, and practicing spiritual disciplines. I should probably work on returning that one to my life.

Volunteering - I think if I were to look at my life as a whole, I have probably been most disciplined in the area of doing volunteer work. I love to do it, but also feel a certain level of accountability. I'm not sure why it is so much easier to be disciplined in this area and not others. Maybe because it is less frequent than every day so there is less chance of burnout. Who knows!

Meal Planning - For some reason I did this much better when we lived at the condo and have yet to get into "the zone" here at the house. The only reason I can think of is the lack of daily routine with Jeff not working. Our days just sort of run together, and we both just pretty much do what we want, when we want for meals. We need to do better.

Boundaries - this is a discipline I am in the process of developing. I've not been nearly dedicated enough in developing boundaries between my personal time and professional responsibilities. I have gotten approval from my Pastor-Parish Relations committee and am working toward these "enforcements" on my own. I am actually really excited about it. We'll see how long that lasts!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.19

For the most part, I'm pretty easy to please. But there are a few things that I can't live without. These are my favorite things that I think make my world a better place

Background Noise - some people like having music on while they work or study or hang out. I prefer dialogue. Even when I drive, I usually have TV episodes playing on my iPod or spoken comedy. Even as a kid, I preferred books on tape to music when I was going to bed. My current entertainment of choice is my Angels & Demons DVD. I probably watch as much of the special features as I do the actual movie. This is precisely why my collection of music is pretty pitiful but I own every episode of Grey's Anatomy!

Kleenex - I must have some sort of chronic sinus and/or allergy thing because I always have a runny nose and am sneezing at something. It also doesn't help that it really doesn't take much to make me cry. I like having tissues and/or napkins with me at all times.

Pens - I always have to have a pen with me. I usually carry several. These are my current favorites because they are felt tip, write easily, are easy to read, but don't bleed through paper or smear easily. I only have black, blue, red, and green but they make them in lots of colors. I'd love to have them all.
Cuticle Nippers - Their primary function is to remove hangnails (which bother me to no end) but I also use them for a variety of tasks. They are great for cutting tags off of clothing, and if they're strong enough I have been known to use them to clip my nails as well.

Q-Tips - I am really funny about several things, and one of them is having stuff in my ears. Whether it's dirt, water, earwax, I don't care. I don't like having stuff in my ears. I can feel it and it does bother me.

What are some of your favorite things that you can't stand to live without?



Monday, May 17, 2010

Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit

We finally have an honest-to-goodness vegetable garden growing in our back yard. Currently, we have a few different kinds of tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, bell peppers, pickling cucumbers, radishes, carrots, green onions, and pole beans in our raised beds along with watermelon and some kind of squash (we think pumpkins) that are off to the side.

Some of the tomatoes were acquired from Jeff's step-dad and his attempt at growing things in his new greenhouse. Unfortunately, he didn't install a fan and did several things wrong and fried most of his plants so we had to supplement with some purchased plants. The same is true of the peppers. The watermelon and pumpkins(?) came from the greenhouse. We are a little skeptical of the pumpkins true identity because they weren't terribly well marked and Jeff swears the leaves look different. I'm just now getting to where I can tell the general plant families apart!

The cucumbers and pole beans came straight from Lowes. I want to try my hand at making pickles this year and Jeff wants the beans (so I may be canning beans, too!) I also have visions of salsa swimming through my head. I may try to slip in a jalapeno plant, but we'll have to wait and see how our other hot peppers do.

The radishes, carrots, and green onions are seeds so very little is visible so far. I don't really have any plans for them at this point. We'll have to wait and see how they do.

Our garden is going to be a constant work in progress. We are hopeful about adding a "fruit cocktail" tree, a thornless blackberry bush, strawberries, and maybe some other things. I really want a lemon tree but that is still being debated.

As for the patio garden, it is doing well. I have a very healthy bunch of rosemary, thyme, cilantro, basil, and mint. I still want to add sage, tarragon, chives, dill, and maybe some lavender. I'm going to need some more pots...


Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Dinner

I'm sure we've all heard the hypothetical question - "If you could have ___ people over for dinner (living or dead), who would they be and why?"

Well, because I'm the world's most indecisive person and because I don't want the pressure of being star-struck in a smallish setting, I have chosen for myself the number of guests as five. Plus, my dining room table will on seat six comfortably. Yeah, I'm a planner like that.

As for the who, this is what I have come up with.

Susanna Wesley - she is an awesome, amazing, kick-butt woman I would love to meet. I just want to know how she was able to do all that she did with the same 24 hours in a day that I have (and many fewer modern conveniences!)

Ree Drummond - aka the Pioneer Woman. She is also an awesome, amazing, and a kick-butt woman I would love to meet. I want to be her when I grow up! (Well, except for all the manure and calf nuts, although I guess I could get used to it and to be fair, that's not exactly what she dreamed of when she grew up either!)

Patrick Dempsey - he would make the group photo so much prettier. And I really do think he has done some really great things with his fame and fortune, so he tops my list of favorite movie stars at the moment.

C.S. Lewis - have mercy this man is brilliant. He just knows how to phrase all the important stuff of life. I have a feeling we would have similar senses of humor.

Chef Tom Colicchio - he has led such an interesting life and been to some great places. And of course we could talk food!

Of course, you can't have a great dinner party without a great dinner, right? So what would I serve? I'd do a potluck! You can tell a lot about a person by the dish they prepare/bring. Plus, it's a great conversation starter!

As for what I would prepare, I sort of feel that, as the hostess, I should make the main dish. I think something simple would be best. Maybe a roast chicken or even beef tenderloin. Desert I would have to buy. No doubt about it! I'm thinking something from Savage's Bakery, although a Strawberry Pie from the All-Steak might be nice if the berries were in season.

I don't think outside entertainment would be necessary, although if anyone came in a limo I would suggest we all pile in and go cruising because I'm just a dork like that!

So there you have it. My dinner. Who would you invite to yours? What would you serve? Have you ever even thought about it? Discuss!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Five - Family Tree

Today's Friday Five is especially appropriate for me because I am in the hometown of my mother's family to celebrate my brother's graduation from college.

1. Do you have any interest in geneaology? Yes, some. I think it's neat to learn what you can about those that have come before you. I especially love the stories.

2. Which countries did your ancestors come from? That we know of - Ireland, Scotland, and England with some strong suspicion of French and/or German.

3. Who is the farthest back ancestor whose name you know? I can only remember a few without looking at my records I have at home - Mary Elizabeth Kennedy, Katie Myrtlean Crowell (the name Myrtlean cracks me up), Richard Lester Haggard. I think all of these are great-grandparents.

4. Any favorite saints or sinners in the group? Nothing really stands out at the moment. My whole family was full of both and I have stories about almost all of them. My great-grandmother was about three months pregnant on her wedding day. My great-great-aunt and uncle dated for almost 20 years while he tried to get an anullment from the Catholic church because he got a divorce from his first wife. He never could get it and they finally got married anyway, so he was excommunicated. Because she was married to him, she wasn't allowed to join the church until after he had died.

5. What would you want your descendants to remember ab
out you?
I don't know, right now there really isn't much to remember except that I went to Vanderbilt and am a minister! Hopefully before I go there will be lots of other good things!

And just a little funny from my past that I learned about last night - When I was about three years old, my great-aunt's dog named Sugar died. When I learned of this, I told my family "She's gone to have dinner with Pa (my great-grandfather) and Jesus." I was being pastoral right from the start!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lit2Go

I was going to save this for a "favorite things" entry, but this find is too stinking spectacular to keep to myself or to be hidden in with a bunch of other freebies or iTunes downloads.

Lit2Go is probably one of my favorite computer finds I have ever made. It is apparently a project of the University of South Florida to make audio versions of classic works of literature available for free. Do you hear me? FREE!

I have downloaded lots today. Not everything they have to offer, but lots. Mostly poems, children's stories, a few rhymes, and a speech or two. I've got my eye on a few longer books for my next car trip.

I know there are lots of literary purists who think audiobooks don't count as books, and I agree that there is nothing quite as satisfying as reading a good story for yourself. But the next best thing is to hear the story read. And maybe it's a result of my childhood, but I still like having stories read to me. The first thing I listened to was one of the Beatrix Potter stories and as I listened to the voice of the reader telling me this story I had almost forgotten, I almost started to cry. It was wonderful!

No, not everything you could ever want is available. In fact, not even all my favorites are available. But all in all, it is a great resource.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.18

I always have TV on, but I rarely ever actually watch it. Most of the time it is simply background noise. However, I do have a few shows that I really love. These are in no particular order, I'd pretty much watch any of them any time!

Pawn Stars - This show has two things I really love: history and hilarious family dynamics. It's also fun to see the junk that people bring in thinking it's worth a zillion dollars and it's just old junk!

Supernanny - I really do love Jo Frost. I want to be like her when I grow up! I watch this show for the same reason I watch cooking shows or Jeff watches home improvement shows - I love to learn things. And even though most of the techniques are the same in many episodes, I love to see how they are nuanced for each situation. Plus, when I can guess which technique will be used and how to implement it, I feel smart. I think it will ultimately make me better equipped to be a parent!

Top Chef - If I get really into a season, I'm addicted. Even if I'm not addicted, I love it. Not to the point that I would actually buy the seasons, but I will watch any of them whenever they come on! It also helps that I've only seen maybe two full seasons so the chances are pretty good I'll catch something I haven't seen before.

True Beauty - This is the first show I ever watched start to finish, HAD to see every single week, and then went back and watched it online at least one more time during the week. I just loved the idea that some rather obnoxious people had to find out the hard way that there is more to beauty than simply being pretty. The only thing I hated was that Joel lasted as long as he did. He was just good looking enough to get through the physical tests but not quite obnoxious enough to get himself into trouble. Oh well, I couldn't have been more thrilled that Julia won. I am excited about the coming second season!

Golden Girls - Yup, as old as it is, it's absolutely hilarious and I love it. I can just about quote all of the episodes. Still, they never fail to entertain me. I also love that Jeff enjoys them and we can quote them to one another.

Grey's Anatomy - it took me several years before I jumped on the bandwagon with the rest of the world, but now I am so hooked. Just when I think I'm about to the point where I can walk away and not care so much, it sucks me back in again!

What TV shows do you love? Which ones can you not stand?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Noodle Surprise

I have a new favorite easy lunch food. I will admit, this one came entirely from my husband. The first time I encountered this little "creation" was during the summer of 2007 while I was doing CPE. Jeff was visiting for the weekend and our CPE group was planning a get-together for Sunday afternoon. We were going to have a potluck gathering. I was making some thai peanut noodles with chicken. I had a little leftover chicken so Jeff decided to make Noodle Surprise with it for our dinner/late night snack.

That first noodle surprise was made with the ramen noodles, chicken, and a shredded cheese blend we found in the fridge. I feel like there was something else, but that's all I remember. I tried a bite to be nice, and promptly made a frozen pizza.

Jeff's "standard" for noodles surprise was ramen, hot dog weiners, and cheddar cheese. I turned my nose up at it. I still turn my nose up at that version. I can't help it. It is just lacking something.

While Jeff was living in Cullman I decided to try making PW's steak bites. They were quite tasty just as I made them, but Jeff wasn't satisfied with that, and the next thing I knew he had thrown some water, ramen noodles, and cream cheese into the pan with the steak tips for his 5 minute stroganoff. I must admit, it was good. Really good. I was intrigued.

Then, not too long ago he made some with leftover smoked sausage, the oriental seasoning that came with the noodles, and cream cheese. I was absolutely hooked. There was something about the spiciness of the sausage and the creaminess of the sauce and the speed with which it was prepared that found a special place in my heart and my stomach.

I finally broke down and made some for myself. I used the smoked sausage, but did it a little differently. Jeff likes the big circles of sausage. I cut it into smaller bites. I got more of the yummy, crunchy, caramelized bits and it was easier to eat. Although Jeff usually makes two packages at a time, I only made one. I added the water to cook the noodles after the sausage had browned a bit. However, instead of the oriental seasoning I used my garlic pepper grinder. Not much because the sausage had a good flavor to start with, but it did add a little something! Top it off with about an ounce of cream cheese and I had a very tasty lunch.

It's not terribly healthy but it's tasty! And it's very customizable. Who knows what I'll come up with next!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Falling Apart

When I started this last year, I tried to give it a distinct purpose. I tried to direct my thoughts and writings in an effort to make it more reader-friendly. I figured that most of the people who would be reading would be people I was already pretty close to and knew me decently well, and possibly (probably) those who had followed my livejournal for a while. And they were probably sick and tired of my whining. So I didn't want this to be a place to while and complain. I wanted it to be a place in this world where I pretty much kept it together and was the mature, responsible adult that I always dreamed of being. I figured that having someone I am accountable to (my readers) would force me to keep it together for the sake of having something to write about.

Well, on some level, it has. And I have been pretty forth-coming with the circumstances of my life. And for the most part, my life is pretty darn fabulous. Patches tried to eat the rose bush I planted. It is currently on horticultural life support but it doesn't look good. The pink roses look great. I should have gotten some pictures while they were still great. We have a few little tomatoes on our vines and planted more, along with pickling cucumbers, pole beans, green onions, radishes, carrots, pumpkins (or squash, we're not quite sure) and watermelons. I'll get into the gardening more in a future post. I had a wonderful steak dinner prepared almost entirely by my husband in honor of mother's day that I got to share with lots of his wonderful family. I have a new Cokesbury catalog so I'll soon break out the pen and sticky flags. Cocoa is doing just fine and has given me lots of wonderful doggy snuggles lately.

But right now I'm very sad. I'm not really sure why. Probably because I'm a little crazy. And exhausted. And hormonal. And crazy. To quote PW, "No, I'm not pregnant, thank you for asking." I have been fighting back tears for several hours for no good reason. I really have no idea what set me off. I guess it doesn't really matter. I guess I am just rambling for the sake of rambling.

But the point I wanted to make here is this - Thank you for loving me even when I fall apart and for knowing that deep down I probably never really had it together to begin with. I appreciate your playing along with my delusions.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Today is a day of mixed emotions for me.

I am thrilled to be able to share it with Barbara and Mamaw and not have to worry about the whole "competing family time" issue. I like being able to enjoy celebrations and not feel rushed through them.

I am a little stressed. It is Sunday, so it is another work day for me. I have Sunday School to teach, worship to lead, and a sermon to give. But I get to relax a little because the evening service has been cancelled because it is a holiday!

I am sad. I miss my mom and my grandmothers. I have a great step-mother who is really more like a friend/big sister than a maternal figure to me. But that is ok. I guess that is what happens when you are 22 and already engaged when your dad re-marries!

I am excited about the future and what mother's days will mean for myself and for Jeff in years to come. I love being a mommy to our fur-babies and I love the idea of being a mommy to our children someday.

I am very happy for all the wonderful mommies and mommies - to - be all over the world. Here's to all of you! Hope you enjoy your extra-special day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hey Neighbor

When I was young, I always dreamed of growing up. I dreamed about having my own home with a garden and a white picket fence and kids riding bikes up and down the street and neighbors hanging out together.

Well, I have the house. It's a very family-friendly neighborhood (although the kids usually ride scooters instead of bikes) and we're just missing the picket fence. Last night, we had our first real "neighbors" thing and it was a BLAST!

Thursday Jeff and I went to Wal-Mart to get some things for the yard. While we were there, a guy stopped us and said "hey, aren't you my neighbor?" After a chat in the middle of the garden center, he mentioned that they were having our neighbors across the street over the next night to grill out and hang out and invited us to come over too.

Friday afternoon we strolled over to their house around six and were greeted by the older boy, who had a juice bag in hand and waved us inside. We came in and hang out for a while as the food finished on the grill. Eventually the other neighbors and their son came over and we hung out. We sort of separated like a middle school dance - girls on one side of the porch, boys on the other.

After several hours, lots of beer, several margaritas, and half a tray of brownies we realized that actually eating dinner might be a good idea. We grazed and talked most of the night. Finally, about midnight (which was right around the time the youngest boy pulled off his diaper and decided to run around naked), we decided it was time to go home.

It was a wonderful time. Exactly the kind of thing I dreamed about! We're definitely going to do it again soon!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Five - Faith and Politics

Today's "Friday Five" can be a rather touchy subject for many, which is unfortunate. It can also be the source of some really great discussion if everyone can just keep on their big girl (or big boy) undies and be respectful of others and open to hearing new ideas, not feel personally attacked by disagreement. I'm not going to try to pick sides or start stuff here, but I am hoping that this gives me the guts to be a little bolder around here. So here goes...

1. Jesus a political figure: discuss... I think he was an accidental political figure. It's just what happens when you start shaking things up and doing things differently and other people start to listen.

2. Politics in the pulpit, yes or no and why? I won't speak to all pulpits, only mine. I don't do politics in the pulpit. Some people can do it very well, but I cannot. A good friend of mine did a great sermon the week before our last presidential election and titled it "How to Vote" which of course got some people riled up before he even started (which was the point) and then he proceeded to tell everyone not WHO to vote for, but HOW they should approach voting - through research, understanding of the issues and the candidates, through prayer, and serious consideration of their responsibility, then get off their rear and actually go vote! I would love to steal this sermon some day (or at least the basic concept) but I'm not there yet.

What I can (and do) preach about is ethics, morals, responsibility, and most of all love. Hopefully a little of it spills over into how others approach politics. As far as directly supporting candidates, positions, etc. I don't do it. I don't object to others doing it, but it's not going to come from me specifically.

3.What are your thoughts on the place of prayer in public life... Like most things in public life, I don't have a problem with it being allowed, but I also don't want it to be mandated. And I certainly don't think that it should be only Christian prayer! My general opinion is that if you want to pray, you should be allowed to do so (and in general, you will be). You should be free to invite anyone you would like to join you. But you should not expect EVERYONE to join you. And you should be free to NOT participate if you if you so choose.

Recently there was a big stink about the whole "National Day of Prayer" thing. I'll be honest, I don't know all the details about what happened or why but what I understood was that the president basically said he would not support a "National Day of Prayer". This is not a new thing folks. I remember being in school and the whole "See you at the pole" thing came under attack. It's the same basic concept. I did not publicly support National Day of Prayer in facebook groups or otherwise. Now please be very clear on something - I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST PEOPLE GATHERING TOGETHER TO PRAY. I THINK IT IS A VERY GOOD THING TO DO. But nothing was going to keep people from gathering together to pray. They just weren't going to have a banner to wave and you weren't going to get a t-shirt for participating. And honestly, if the reason you want to participate in something like that is for the attention or to simply say you did, I don't think you should do it because I don't think your heart is in the right place.

4.Is there a political figure, Christian or otherwise that you admire for their integrity? I honestly don't know. Every time I think so, I learn more about them and realize their public persona and their private self don't match up. And maybe I don't understand because I've never really been in politics, but isn't that kind of the definition of integrity? Maybe if I was more into history and politics I would have some names I could give you.

5.What are your thoughts on tactical voting, e.g. would you vote for one individual/party just to keep another individual/ party form gaining power? Ok, full disclosure - I have never done this. However, I have really wanted to. In general, if I am not passionate about voting for someone, I just don't vote. I don't vote like I should. I can blame some of it on practicality and the fact that, pretty much since I was able and registered to vote, I have lived far away. I voted absentee once and I actually voted in some local election once when I happened to be home one summer. I plan to be better about it now, so I hope I can continue to act like a grown up about the whole thing!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cocoa

I had the scare of my life yesterday afternoon. Cocoa fell off the deck. Not like tripped off a couple of steps, but got thrown almost from the top!

Patches was all fired up when I got home (like he usually is when he's been alone all day) and I put Cocoa down to go potty. Well, Patches wanted to play. And he got a little too excited. And he hit Cocoa a little too hard, and she went flying through the opening at the back of the step down to the ground about 9 feet below! I realized what had happened about half a second before she hit the ground and I just felt my heart sink into my gut!

As soon as she hit the ground she cried like she has never cried before. Even when I picked her up she was whining and wailing. I carried her inside and she had stopped crying but was still just shaking, but so was I! I sat down on the couch with her and she immediately tried to crawl off my lap. She was holding one of her front paws funny and didn't really want to stand but wouldn't lie down either. So I knew there was only one thing to do - take her to the vet!

I scooped her up, grabbed my bag, and was going to head for the vet. I got halfway out the driveway and looked out my rearview mirror. I remembered that our neighbor across the street is a vet tech and all their cars were there, so I figured she was there. She could probably tell me if anything was wrong and what to do.

She checked Cocoa out and she was probably ok. While we were there, Cocoa was walking around on all four legs and stopped shaking, plus she didn't cry or anything when she was touched, so that was encouraging. I brought her home and snuggled her on the couch for a bit before she hopped down and trotted into the kitchen to sniff at her food bowl. I followed her to see if she'd eat and she just kind of looked at me like "what, this is it?" I gave her some more food and a french fry from my dinner. She gave me the pitiful face and tried whining for an extra fry, but it didn't work.

She was running around and jumping on the furniture and ate some of her food so I felt like she was ok. She snuggled in my lap and acted ok for the rest of the evening so I wasn't too worried, but was just exhausted from all the adrenaline and fear!

We both slept pretty well. I got a little worried when she rolled over in bed this morning and was making some pitiful little yelping noises until I realized she was snoring! She didn't really get up when I did so I was a little worried, but once I got her up and we went outside, she was perfectly fine! She has been acting like herself ever since.

I think the whole thing just scared her and knocked the wind out of her. It scared me too! I know she's a dog, but she is special to me. She is my sweet, furry baby. I love her very much and don't want anything bad to happen to her!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.17

Although I don't wear much makeup or spend a ton of time or energy on my appearance, I do have a few things I really love.

Mary Kay Coral Rose lip gloss - I don't do lipstick. Even when I dress up. But I do love colored gloss, this one in particular. It's sort of a pink color, but not too obnoxiously pink. It suits me.
Bath & Body Works bubble bath - Specifically my favorite "flavor" right now is Black Amethyst. It's hard to describe, but I really like it. It's comforting and soothing and refreshing all at the same time. The picture on the bottle is purple tulips, so that doesn't help solve the mystery of the ingredients, but it's pretty!

Brown lash-lengthening or waterproof mascara - I'm not really particular about my brand here, but it's harder to find than you think. I always feel like I look strange in black mascara, and I was always told that because I was so pale I really didn't need to wear black and I have come to agree. Maybe there is more out there now (I haven't looked in several years) but it's hard to find brown in anything but "regular" mascara (so if you find some let me know!)

Olay wet cleansing and makeup remover cloths - I love them because they are so simple. You don't need water to wet them and you don't need to rinse your face after you use them, they take off your makeup and they just make you feel nice and refreshed after you use them.

Herbal Essences shampoo - I really don't know why I love this stuff so much. Goodness knows I have used enough different shampoos and never really paid much attention to the differences in my hair when I use them. And I certainly don't use this exclusively, but I definitely prefer it when possible!
Clinique Simply perfume - You can't get it anymore. I don't know why. It's a sweet, simple scent that I absolutely love. I got a bottle for my 19th birthday and I still try to save it for special occasions.

What are the things in your toolkit you absolutely love?

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Car

For the most part, I like to keep my home at least presentable. I generally don't mind sharing most of my things. Even my closets have become areas that I'm not embarrassed to leave open. However my car is another story.

Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomena. Ever since I got my license and a car I didn't have to share, it was an extension of my home. And not in the good way of being warm and friendly and expressing my personality. It became a rolling office, library, closet, and occasionally even bedroom.

Once I started college, it just got worse. I would toss stuff in the car for work or to haul it home or back to school and it would never make it to its final destination, instead living in automotive purgatory. My many moves just perpetuated this cycle. Now, there is absolutely no reason for this to be true. But the thought of making those multiple trips to unload everything was just a daunting task so I was not motivated to get it done.

I have finally gotten to a point that my car can be considered "cleaned out." I emptied the floorboard and both of the front seats. The back seats can all accommodate rear ends and/or car seats. Then, my loving husband emptied the floor of the back. Per a previous agreement, once I got the car cleaned out, he would wash it for me. For most people, this wouldn't be a very big deal. After all, washing the car is an exterior job, right? Well, not for him. Washing the outside is just the start. It also includes vacuuming, shampooing the carpets, conditioning the leather, polishing the wood grain, even washing out the cupholders! I must admit, I wouldn't go through all that myself, but I certainly appreciate the results!

The trunk still has a lot of things in it. Mostly it's books that I can unload in the church now that I have gotten my bookshelves rearranged (which is a whole other post!). Jeff calls it my "mobile assault library". My goal is that, at least by Mother's Day, I will have the whole thing emptied and I will actually be able to put groceries in the trunk and we can take my car to the various graduation trips we will be making!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Smothered Pork Chops 2.0

I recently came to the realization that I hadn't made my smothered pork chops in quite a while and decided it was past time. But also being incredibly lazy (and slightly inspired) I decided to give a crock pot version of these little lovelies a try. All the ingredients are the same as last time - pork chops, onion, bell pepper, chicken stock, dales, cayenne. Please ignore the butter in the photo. It was a reflex.
There are no "steps" here - just toss it all in. As far as quantities, it all comes down to personal taste. I used 4 pork chops, half an onion, and about 1/3 cup of bell pepper pieces (you know, one good handful). The joy of a slow cooker is that the same amount of liquid can cook a lot more meat, and one can of chicken stock could easily do a whole pork tenderloin if that's the route you wanted to go for a party or if you just wanted lots of leftovers!

Let it cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. I tend to let it go 8 hours (or more). I think mine cooked for right about 7.5 hours. I had planned to let them go the full eight but I had a hungry husband who did not agree with that plan.

I like it served over rice or even pasta. This time I went with herbed rice (white rice cooked in chicken stock and seasoned with seasoned salt, garlic pepper, and thyme) I don't have a picture of the finished product, but it really wasn't all that impressive to look at. Trust me when I say the looks didn't matter because it tasted great! You didn't even need a knife. As soon as you stuck your fork into the pork chop it just fell apart! Yum...

If you're not a pork person, this would also be great with chicken. I'm going to have to remember to try that...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

No Apologies

A person's lifestyle can be something very tricky to try and get a hold on. I'm sure at one point in history, it was relatively safe to make a few assumptions about your friends and neighbors but this is no longer the case. On the one hand I think it is great that life and society has become so diverse. On the other hand, it can make for some very awkward moments. You get invited to a baby shower and the assumption is "well, they can always use baby wash and diapers and wipes" even though these things aren't on the registry so you put together a lovely little gift basket and come to find out the parents are using cloth diapers and all-natural baby products. Oops! Or you put together a lovely chicken casserole for a family who has had an illness or death and you pack your pyrex dish full of lots of love and cheese, only to find out they are vegan! Awkward!

Even getting a handle on your own lifestyle and being able to define and describe it to others can be very difficult. In many cases, there always seems to be an implication that if you are doing something outside the perceived "norm" that you should apologize for rocking the boat or doing things in your own way. This never really bothered me much because I never was one to rock the boat. I liked what was easy and convenient and available.

Now reality has set in. I have come to the realization that I am indeed one to rock the boat. I am now very proud of this fact. I enjoy doing things my own way and making things my own. I see it now to be, in many ways, my responsibility. I look back on life and the things that I remember are the things that were different and special and unique to me or my family or my friends. Yes, I'm still peeved about the cow bell at the wedding, but over all the cow bell tradition is a fun one to share with my family.

From the time I was young, I always knew I wanted to get married and have a family. No question about it. And for the most part growing up in small-town Alabama, that was not only accepted, but expected. No problems there. Except when I started pursuing my M.Div. Maybe it was the influx of people and perspectives so different from my own. Maybe it was the fact that we were all spending buckets of money on a professional degree. I don't know what it was. But I always felt the need to apologize for the fact that I wanted to get married and have a family. And that may mean putting my husband's career above my own. Or taking some time off to raise my kids. That just seemed so "abnormal", some would even say wrong. Sure people got married all the time. Some even had kids. But it was so different when it was a guy. His wife could have a baby and he could show up two days later and take a mid-term. I wouldn't have been able to do that. And I don't know that there would have been much sympathy for me either. It's unfortunate but it is what it is.

Now I find myself in similar situations, except turned around a bit. I am very lucky to have a wonderful, loving, supportive church to serve. They have had two female ministers prior to my coming. They have had one or two who were younger than me as well. I'm not really breaking much new ground here. Except, that I am the first female to be married. And they aren't quite sure what to do with Jeff. They love him dearly, but I see how lots of people aren't quite sure what to expect of him, or of me. On the very first Sunday I sat on the front pew to lead the service because the previous minister never used the "big chairs" up front, and there really isn't much room to move around up there anyway. Jeff chose a pew in the back on the other side. Several people had a fit and asked him "well, aren't you going to sit with her?" Thank heavens he simply responded "She's a big girl, she doesn't need me to hold her hand!" And nobody said anything about it ever again.

I also don't expect Jeff to go to church with me every single week. I would love it if he did, but it's his choice. I'm not his mother, I'm his wife. And I don't expect him to join the church just because I serve it. He isn't Methodist. He doesn't claim to be. I knew that when I met him and I knew it when I married him. He knows that I am. He knows who I am and what I do and that's fine for both of us. I had a church member admit to me that she really doesn't know what to make of the two of us because, with the previous pastor, his wife was "always there, unless she was keeping the grandkids". Good for her. But I am not the previous pastor and Jeff is not the previous pastor's wife. Jeff isn't a pastor's wife at all! Yes he is a clergy spouse, but that is a title, not a definition.

I am excited about the prospect of having children, but I know that they will come when the time is right. I know that we aren't ready for kids yet. I know that on some level you are never ready, but for right now we are willing to wait. However, when we do have children I want the best for them. I want to find out whether we are having a boy or a girl, but I don't know that it'll change much. And just because we know doesn't mean that I will tell the rest of the world. Because I don't want anything to be too super-girly or super-masculine either way. I will probably decorate the nursery in green and yellow. I don't want anyone to give us clothes unless they are plain white onesies. I want to try to use cloth diapers but won't think of myself as a failure if we end up going back to the disposables. I want to try to avoid formula if we can but if the nursing thing doesn't work it's ok. I'm not opposed to putting the child in front of a video for a while so I can start dinner or do a load of laundry or whatever. I want to take full advantage of my maternity leave but would probably want to go back to work part time at least.

Yes I am a female pastor. Yes I am 24 years old. Yes I am married. Yes I want to have children. Yes I want to nurse my child if possible. Yes I would like to try and use cloth diapers as much as possible. Yes I would like to adopt. Yes I throw away some of my cans and forget to recycle my newspapers. Yes I eat McDonalds and shop at Wal-Mart. Yes I occasionally curse. Yes I drive a car that takes premium gas. Yes I let my husband sleep in on Sunday if he so chooses. Yes I am a flawed individual doing the best I can.

No I do not make any apologies for who I am or what I do and what I do not do!