Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I've heard about the idea of nesting in several different ways throughout my life. Most of the time, it refers to creating a safe, warm, comfortable space. Generally, it involves physical space. The two most common ways I've heard about nesting is setting up a house and decorating, or cleaning and preparing for the arrival of a child. But lately I've come to understand nesting in a broader sense of making preparations. I've heard the writing of birth plans and even advance directives called "a special kind of nesting" referring to creating that environment of love, care, and comfort for someone. It's about transitions in all different forms.

I have found myself doing a unique form of nesting of my own lately. I'm facing a big transition with the end of CPE. In addition to all the emotions of leaving that community and those responsibilities, I'm facing these wide open days with lots of possibilities and very little direction. I'm not a very good "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of person, so I need some structure.

In addition to the change of having time on my hands, this will be a big change because I will be at home all day by myself, which has never been the case since we have lived in this house! Jeff lost his job right after we moved, so even before CPE, he was always here with me! As much as I love spending time with him and having him help with stuff around the house, I do miss being able to do things for him like have dinner waiting when he gets home or doing the shopping and taking care of the errands so that we don't have to do the "work" stuff on the weekends!

I've had lists and plans and schedules on my mind for a while now. I guess that is my own form of nesting. Of preparing my space, both physical and mental, for a change. Whether I stick to these plans or modify them is yet to be seen, but that really isn't the point either. Making plans is like a security blanket for me. It makes me feel as though I have some control over all that's happening in my life, even when I know I really don't.

It's still a month away, but I've already got several lists/plans going. Meal plans, grocery lists, chore schedules, and I'm sure plenty of other things will surface as well. In the meantime, I'm sure I'l come up with plenty of other things to plan and prepare for! And if you need anything planned for you, let me know!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Week 33

I'm trying to get back on the updating train and trying to pay a little more attention to my 101 things list.

2 - We're well on our way. I anticipate this one being completed by the end of the year!

17 - Also in the works. Wicked is coming to Birmingham in February! Hooray!

41 - So help me, I'm going to get this done before the end of the month! I still have a stack of CDs sitting on my dresser that need to go be printed.

51 - As I was reflecting the other day, I realized that I have done this one! The two I am thinking of in particular both came out of hospital experiences, although I won't say which hospital or in what role, but I will say that I'm incredibly blessed to have both of them in my life now!

So basically, not a whole lot has gotten done recently. Progress is being made and I'm getting closer to marking some things off my list, but for now it's pretty satisfying to look back and see all the stuff that has already been accomplished about 1/3 of the way through!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Key Lime Pie

I recently realized that, although I have referenced my recipe for no-bake key lime pie, I never actually posted it. Since I made a pie for my birthday and have had several requests for the recipe, I decided that maybe it was finally time for me to share. This is pretty complicated, do you think you can handle it?

2 blocks cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
approximately 3/4 cup key lime juice
1 prepared graham cracker crust

Add the first three ingredients to a bowl
Mix the heck out of them
Pour into pie crust
Refrigerate overnight

A few helpful hints:
You can buy key lime juice in a bottle. I went hunting it at a gourmet market, but have since found it at Publix.
You don't have to fool with a measuring cup for the juice. About half the can of sweetened condensed milk comes out to be about right. Just taste it!
The cream cheese mixes a little better if it's room temperature, but it'll do fine if it isn't
I have had better luck mixing with my immersion blender than with my stand mixer.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Five - Road Trips

Today's Friday Five is all about road trips. Particularly, listing five road trips we've taken. This is a tough one for me because I haven't taken that many road trips! When I was a kid that just wasn't something we did. We'd drive to our vacation destination, but it was usually all about the single destination, not the adventures along the way. However, now that I'm a grown up I like the idea of them more and more.

I started off thinking I'd only ever been on one, but the more I thought and wrote, the more I realized that we did in fact take one as a family when I was a kid. I have happy memories of it, but from a practical standpoint I realize that it was kind of a disaster and understand why we didn't do more of these. My dad hated the idea of doing anything except getting where you were going as fast as possible, so "adventure" wasn't high on the priority list. We went to Washington, DC and Williamsburg, VA. Then my aunt drove over from Ohio to take me and my brother home with her for a week to visit. I can laugh about the mis-adventure of so much of it now that we have survived, but I can't imagine the stress on my family at the time!

Our Honeymoon: Birmingham, Atlanta, Savannah, and Tybee Island. The whole goal we had for our honeymoon was to go someplace we had been before so we could just relax and enjoy our time together. Neither of us had ever been to Tybee, but my mom lived in Savannah for a few years so I remembered her telling us about it as kids so it was a nice, sentimental way of sort of involving her and her memory in it. We had a wonderful time and are looking to do it again!

We have discussed the idea of taking a few more trips, the earliest possibly being next May. So here are a few of the trips I would like to take

1) Midwestern Loop: From Alabama, loop up through St. Louis and stop to see relatives in Des Moines, then over to Mt. Rushmore and Devil's Tower, down through Colorado and Oklahoma and finally scooting back through Arkansas to get back home.

2) East Coast: Go down to Key West and work our way all the way up to Maine and maybe even slipping into Canada for a while. This one will probably have to be several years down the road!

3) Grand Canyon/Las Vegas: This is one of Jeff's dream trips and I have to admit it does sound very appealing. It would probably have to involve flying and renting a car rather than driving the whole way, but it's also on the short list!

4) Alaska: More specifically, drive to Alaska. I'm still undecided about whether to fly to Portland to see Jeff's step-sister and start from there or if we'd want to drive the whole thing from Alabama. An RV would definitely have to be involved in this one. This trip is probably many years away, too!

The ultimate goal is to visit all 50 states. I'm not particular about how we do it, but road trips seem to be the easiest and most economical way of seeing the most places. We have no idea when we'll go on a trip like this or what it would look like, but as long as we get to spend it together I'm not too particular!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bittersweet Birthday

Well, it's official. I'm now closer to 30 than 20. Seriously?

It's kind of bittersweet in that this is the first birthday I've had to celebrate without either of my parents. It's an odd feeling to think about the fact that the two people who brought me into this world have now left it. At the same time it's kind of sweet because it's the first birthday they've both gotten to spend with my twin sister in heaven. Yes, I know, birthdays here don't mean much in heaven, but I know this was always a bittersweet day for them because at the same time they had a daughter they also lost one. So today, they get to celebrate together, and for that I'm very grateful. I'm pretty sure there's red velvet cake in heaven, and if not there's definitely key lime pie, so I'm hoping they'll have a slice for me!

Ok, have we got all the crying out of our systems now? Then let's focus on the celebration part!

This year, my birthday started about a month early! Jeff made me my fabulous workbench in the garage, and now that I know how to work things down there I've been spending a couple of hours almost every night down there working on something! I got myself a lovely necklace that I wear pretty much everywhere and it's super-cute and super-special to me. Because today is Tuesday, the celebrating with extended family had to be on the weekends before or after. I think that's kind of how it should be. Saturday Catherine and John came and we went to dinner at Fox Valley. That was REALLY nice! Catherine got me the die cut machine I wanted, so I've been playing with that. John got me a gift certificate for a day spa, so I'm going to take one of my days off and go get a 90 minute hot stone massage! Jeff's step-sister has been down, so we had lunch with his mom, step-dad, and step-sister on Sunday. That wasn't officially birthday related, but it was fun.

Yesterday was supposed to be my off day but I spent it at employee orientation at Children's Hospital. Then I had dinner with my friend Tyler at Silvertron Cafe. Since I got off work before she did, I got to spend a little time at a funky boutique across the street from the restaurant. Today I also spent half the day at Children's and the other half at UAB for CPE. I made lots of treats to take to work/class. I had planned to take them today, but since I had to spend the morning at Children's and didn't want to fool with hauling it all over creation, I'm taking everything for class tomorrow. My only request for tonight was dinner with Jeff. No friends, no family, just us! I had a nice dinner with Jeff and now I'm going to spend the evening making goodies!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fox Valley Restaurant

I finally got around to trying Fox Valley Restaurant in Helena with my step-mom, brother, and husband for my birthday dinner. HOLY HECK! I can't say enough good things about this place! It's rather unexpected being attached to a gas station and all, but oh it's such a gem.

We started out with a bottle of Pinot Noir which was fantastic. We've all become red wine drinkers somehow, which is a good thing. We didn't do appetizers. All our dinners came with salad but since I don't eat salad I got the cheddar cheese and ale soup instead. My soup was SO amazing! It was seasoned really well, had just a little bit of bite to it, and although it was nice and creamy and perfect, it wasn't so rich it was just overpowering. YUMMY!

For dinner, I had the "steak and cake" which I heard lots and lots of people ordering. I totally understand why. It's a fabulous filet and one of their famous crab cakes with a delicious brown butter sauce. Jeff and Catherine got the seafood sampler, which had a crab cake, crab claws, grilled shrimp, and grille scallops. They both enjoyed it very much. John got the rack of lamb with polenta and some kind of really great sauce. I had never had lamb before and so trying a bite of John's was really great. We didn't get any sides, and John's was the only entree that came with any. Really, we had plenty to eat without them, but next time I would like to try the potato gratin.

As if we weren't full and happy enough with that, then came dessert. I had key lime pie. Catherine got vanilla creme brulee. Jeff got Bailey's chocolate chip cheesecake. John's was the surprise of the evening with a sour cream apple pie. I'm normally not a fan of apple pie, but this was really fantastic!

There wasn't a single thing that we could complain about. The atmosphere was great, the service was fantastic, and the food was AH-MAZE-ING! We will definitely be back! I absolutely recommend it. Even if you don't live in the area, it's totally worth the trip.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Five - Gratitudes

Wow, it's been WAY too long since I did a Friday Five. So for today, I'm getting back to it. The Friday Five for today invites us to share five gratitudes in our life. This almost seems too easy! I know this seems sort of like the "Sunday School" list, but it truly is genuine!

1. My husband - I am so grateful to have a man that loves and supports me and allows me to love and support him. I truly can't imagine my life without him.

2. My family - I am so grateful for my family that is there for anything. I have been incredibly blessed by all the relationships that have continued to develop and evolve. I can't wait to see what is next.

3. My friends - I am incredibly grateful for all my friends, and especially grateful for the variety of interests and perspectives that come from all my friends.

4. My workshop - I am so grateful that I have a place where I can be refreshed and revived and express myself in new and different ways.

5. My partners in ministry - I am very grateful for all my colleagues who inspire and empower and support me in the good, meaningful, important work that we do each and every day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Week 31

I have really been slacking on my 101 list, or at least slacking on my updating. I can't believe it's been 9 weeks since I sat down and really thought about this! Alas, this crazy thing called life gets in the way of all sorts of plans. So without any more excuses, I give you my update

30 - I think I have actually done this one, although I wasn't intentional about paying attention to it, so it will stay on the list for a while longer. Not being on call at night for a month has really helped that! I'm definitely not the night owl I used to be!

34 - still haven't done this but I've made a step in that direction! I bought a Groupon for a cooking class at Cafe de Paris downtown, so now all I have to do is find a Saturday to use it!

53 - I don't know that it's technically "learning to use", but I have participated in the use of the new sliding compound miter saw (which I don't like at all) and the belt sander (I'm learning to appreciate this one!) Next up is the staple gun, which I think will take care of crossing this one off the list!

54 - still haven't done this one, but at least now I know what I want to do and have pretty much everything I need to do it, I just need to make the time and actually do it!

73 - COMPLETED - I never would have thought the garage would be my new permanent craft space, but it's been fabulous and I'm loving it!

77 - COMPLETED - this summer and all the storms have given me lots of good opportunities for this. I'm glad I've taken advantage of at least one of them!

82 - COMPLETED - Yup, that's right. I have a real job as a real chaplain! I'm a weekend relief chaplain at Children's Hospital. I won't officially be on the schedule until October, but I'm hired and official. I start orientation next week!

98 - COMPLETED - Yes, I know my birthday isn't until next week. But I got myself a fabulous present - a necklace from Cute as a Button that says "Beloved" on it. I adore it and wear it every day!

100 - COMPLETED - I finally got around to reading the first Harry Potter book. I loved it and now can't wait to read the others! I devoured the whole thing in less than 24 hours, so something tells me I'm going to need a few days where I can do nothing but read to get the others done (especially the last few!)

So there you have it, a fully updated account of what I have been doing with myself. According to my count, I've completed 33 of the things on my list, which means I've got about 1/3 of the items done in just over 1/4 of the time I have. So, that bodes well for me! Now to keep it up...