Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I know I'm bad... but here's a recipe

I know I haven't posted in forever. But I have my reasons... and I promise I'll pick up the pace sooner than later.

But for now, I'll leave you with a post for my most favorite "grown-up" grilled cheese sandwich (sans pictures.)

You'll need:
Good, fresh focaccia bread (Why focaccia? Because I say so)
- Brie cheese
- Arugula
- Mango Chutney

Assemble into a sandwich. Cook until the cheese is melted (b
e it stovetop, panini press, oven) and eat.

It is heaven... in an sandwich.

So what's your favorite "adult" version of grilled cheese? Or are you still a white bread and Kraft singles fan?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Who Says You Can't Mix Neutrals?!

Who Says You Can't Mix Neutrals?!

Yesterday I woke up feeling pretty crummy. I don't know if you're like me... but when I don't feel well, I try to dress to overcompensate my mood.

Not that I'm a fashionista by any means, but one traditional fashion "don't" I hate is the notion you can't mix neutrals (like brown and black.)

Well yesterday I mixed a bit of 'em all. Black dress, grey cashmere cardigan, tan boots, deep citrine and gold necklace, silver bangle, etc. I might not have been the most colorful girl on the block - but some days you can't resist the polished look that comes with neutrals!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Best.Show.Ever


So last night, Chad and I finished watching the final episode of a television show that has absolutely riveted us for the past several months.

"The Wire" was a show that ran for five seasons on HBO from 2002-2008. Months ago, a few friends mentioned the show to me and how it was incredible. Chad and I went ahead and bought the entire series and quickly started in.

Honestly and without exaggeration... it is BY FAR the greatest show I have ever seen.

A quick synopsis from Wiki:

The Wire is an American television drama series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was broadcast by the premium cable network HBO in the United States. The Wire premiered on June 2, 2002 and ended on March 9, 2008, comprising sixty episodes over five seasons

Each season of The Wire focuses on a different facet of the city of Baltimore. They are, in order: the illegal drug trade, the port system, the city government and bureaucracy, the school system, and the print news media. The large cast consists mainly of character actors who are little known for their other roles. Simon has said that despite its presentation as a crime drama, the show is "really about the American city, and about how we live together. It's about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution they are committed to."

Despite never seeing a large commercial success or winning major television awards, The Wire has been described by many critics as the greatest television series ever made and one of the most accomplished works of fiction of the 2000s. The show is recognized for its realistic portrayal of urban life, its literary ambitions, and its uncommonly deep exploration of sociopolitical themes.

I have hardly, if ever, found a show where you become so emotionally attached to the characters, you have a hard time believing that it is just a television show.The show is definitely gritty - so be warned - but it is incredibly realistic.

I could go on and on all day about how incredible this show was, but I just had to introduce it to you. So if you have Netflicks, or even better - want to just spend the money and go ahead and buy the series (because you WILL watch it again and give it to everyone you know to watch), do it. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Mama

Today is my sweet mama's birthday! I know everyone says this about their own mom... but other people say it about mine too, so I think it's safe to say that my mom is without a doubt one of the greatest women on this planet. She is just so caring, and nurturing, and smart, and beautiful, and kind and talented.

But as great of a person as she is, she really just is the most amazing mom. I have to remind myself frequently, that not all moms are like mine... and to never take advantage of it. I always assume that every mom is as supportive, caring and loving as mine is. But that's just not the case.

I think back for all the special little things she (and my dad) did for us as kids. Let me first remind you that I am one of FIVE. But my mom never let that busyness get in the way of making every day special. Like how every December... my mom would put together an advent calendar for us (not just the little ones you buy at the dollar store and open a window each night for a piece of chocolate.) Oh no! My mom would write a rhyming clue for EACH DAY leading up to Christmas, that we'd get to open, read and would lead us to some spot in the house where she hid some sort of "prize" - be it a game or candy.

Or how my parents were committed to finding each of us kids own "special" thing to do with mom and dad. For me, my parents would buy tickets to musicals to take just me. I'd get all dressed up, and have a special evening out with my mom and dad.

And now that I've gotten older, I look back in awe at how the woman did it all!

But more than anything, I appreciate her "mothering" as an adult myself. Every day she continues to teach me so much. I'm so thankful for her and our relationship.

Happiest of birthdays to my darling mom. You are loved.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A little Friday faithfulness

Next Wednesday, I'm about to start back up (after about a two month long break) with my Bible study girls to do another Beth Moore study. I've quoted from Beth before, and I know I've mentioned her name in previous posts... and think her blog, Living Proof, is one of my favorites on my blog sidebar. She's an amazing woman who has an amazing ability to speak the Word of God in such an approachable and relate-able way. I've seen her twice in conferences and done, I believe, five of her Bible studies.

A long time ago a girlfriend of mine, who is also in my Bible study, had her mom forward her the print version of this story I have below in video. I don't believe her mom knew, at the time, that we did a lot of Beth's Bible studies. Beth has quite the knack for story telling, and while reading the story was good, seeing her tell it is even better.

I couldn't resist sharing it with you. So find some time - the video is about eight minutes - for you to hear a great story.



Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Recipe: Best Hummus Ever

You would never guess it, but Raleigh is lucky to be home to an ah-maz-ing Middle Eastern restaurant called Neomonde. If I could eat there for lunch every day of the week, I would make that happen.

And while I've tried many things on their menu, they have one lunch special that is my go-to and it takes an act of God to get to me order something else. My "lunchbox" includes a warmed veggie wrap (pita with marinated egg plant, zucchini, squash, red pepper and tons of other deliciousness), with a side of tatziki (greek yogurt dip with cucumber, garlic and mint) and a side of hummus with olives and olive oil on top. A couple extra slices of pita for dipping, plus a pistachio baklava for dessert - it is an amazing, filling and healthy lunch.

Luckily, Neomonde is so kind as to give some of their recipes away - including their famous creamy hummus. I'm lucky enough to go buy it by the pound when the mood hits me, but for those of you not in driving distance, here is the recipe:

Neomonde Hummus

Ingredients:
1 pound dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup tahini
1 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kalamata olives and extra virgin olive oil, optional garnish

Directions:
Wash and drain the chickpeas twice, discarding any stones or debris. Place chickpeas in a pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Allow to soak for at least 12 hours.

Drain chickpeas, return to pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until a froth forms on top of the liquid. Drain and rinse chickpeas again, wipe foam from pot and return chickpeas to pot.

Add enough water to cover chickpeas by 2 inches. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, adding water as necessary to keep chickpeas covered, until tender. Depending on the dryness of the chickpeas, this can take anywhere from 45 minutes to more than an hour. Allow chickpeas to cool to room temperature in the cooking liquid.

With a food processor running, drop garlic cloves through the feed chute and process until finely chopped. Stop the machine and add chickpeas and just enough cooking liquid to cover them (you may have to work in batches). Process until smooth.

Add tahini, lemon juice and olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning with more salt if needed. Serve with warm pita wedges for dipping. If desired, garnish the hummus with Kalamata olives and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy (Late) Anniversary to my parents!

On Monday, my mom and dad celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, they headed up to gorgeous Asheville, NC for the week.

They spent the first few days at famed Biltmore Inn, doing tours, having afternoon tea, eating yummy meals and enjoying time together. Yesterday, I believe, they moved to a little cabin where they'll stay until Saturday. It has been a long time since my mom and dad spent a full week, just the two of them. Every time I've talked to my mom she sounded giddy with excitement... and, likely, wine.

Here's the problem: I miss my mom! Every weekday morning during our commutes to the office, my mom and I get a good 30 minute phone convo in. And mind you, I live 5 minutes from my parents... it's not like I don't seem them. Sure there are some mornings we don't have much to talk about, but they are usually few and far between. Usually the time flies by, and I'm rushing to get off the phone with her so I'm not sitting outside my office in the parking lot for an extra 15 minutes.

And in addition to our morning calls, it's a given that at least twice or three times during the week, Chad or I will have a question for one of my parents that merits another phone call.

But I resolved that I'd let my dad have my mom all to himself this week, and keep my phone calls to a minimum: emergency calls only! I'm definitely ready to have her back. Not that I don't miss my daddy too... but my life just doesn't spin as neatly unless my mom is around.

With that said - I've got to say for the millionth time how blessed I've been to watch my parents navigate the at times crazy waters of marriage. I've read before that the best way for a father to show his children how much he loves them is by loving his wife. And truly, there has been no better gift for me - and all my siblings - than the stability they've provided us throughout the years with the steadfastness of their love for us and each other. That didn't mean days, and seasons, were difficult, but I'm glad they've pushed through.

So congrats, mom and dad! I hope the next 30 are even better!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year --- and where I wish I was!

Hi, dear ones. I hope you all had a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday and are anxiously awaiting 2011 as much as I am!

I've never really been one for New Year's resolutions, but this year one smacked me in the head and I can't ignore it.

It started at lunch on New Year's day. Chad and I had lunch with an old friend
of his from his childhood, whom I've never met before. His friend, though we don't know for sure, likely has a social interaction disorder like Asperger's syndrome. He was a very nice man, and I could see how excited he was to be able to get together with Chad. The lunch left me a bit sad - knowing it has been probably hard for this guy to make friends over the years... and how he'd likely never have a deep relationship - like a marriage.

That night, as I was saying my prayers, I began praying for this friend of Chad's - just that God provides comfort to him and his family, and that he feels loved and cared for... even if he's
not as "normal" as you or I. And one of the things I love most about praying, is when I get to hear God talk back. No sooner than I finished praying for this man, I can hear God responding to me, "Do you think that's how I see him?" You see, God was making it very clear to me that he doesn't look at his children the same way we do. They are all beautiful, perfect and wonderful to him - no matter how our world likes to lump people into categories so we feel superior or inferior.

Talk about convicting! God called me out! I knew what I wanted to change about myself more this year. I want to see people like God sees them - that means the sick, the different, the poor, the hurting, those that love me and those that hate me. Imagine how different life would be if you looked at your "enemies" like they were a loved child of God? So that is my goal. And I talked to Chad about it and asked him to hold me accountable - if I'm ever talking down about another person, to remind me that I'm not seeing them with God's eyes.

And now for the second part of my post - where I wish I was right now! Currently, in
Atlanta, more than 20,000 college aged students (my sweet little sister included) are participating in an annual conference called Passion. It includes some of the greatest modern day Christian teachers - including two of my favorites, Beth Moore, Andy Stanley and Francis Chan - and some of the best Christian artists - like David Crowder Band, Kristain Stanfill, Chris Tomlin and more.

{pics of this year's conference - via @passionblog}

I can't even imagine the electricity in Atlanta right now at Passion. I'm counting the minutes until my sister gets home so she can tell me all about it. I desperately wanted to go to the conference with Chad this year, but sadly we are too old. I want to go bad enough that I might need to start volunteering with our church's college ministry so I can go as a chaperon next year! (I think my 2nd and 3rd graders might miss me though!) However, I've been at the conference in prayer this weekend.

Beth Moore spoke at the conference, and wrote about about it on her blog today and it got me even more excited about what God is doing in the lives of those young people:

I just left Passion 2011. It’s still going strong and will not end until tomorrow morning but my schedule was best suited to the first half of it. (I hate so much to miss Dr. Piper though.) If you’re not familiar with the Passion movement (Louie and Shelley Giglio, founders), I will never do justice to it here in this brief explanation so please google it and behold a mighty work of God. In a nutshell, however, it is perhaps the most powerful thing God is doing among college-age men and women across the globe. Do not believe the hype that Jesus has left the college campus. My whole family and I have had the mystifying privilege of being involved since the national conference began in the late 90’s. Even Keith adores it. Curtis serves as one of the community leaders and Amanda ministers right by his side. Every single time I stand in awe of God’s palpable presence in a secular arena packed with students but never more than this year. The event always attracts way over 10,000 people but this new year it sold out at a whopping 22,000 and about five minutes into the event, it was clear why. God.

No other reason.

He has as uncanny a way of showing Himself at these events and, in light of His innumerable mercies, we can guess why. There is no age demographic at greater risk than 18-25 year olds and He’s chasing them down like He’s got nothing to lose but a generation. Our embarrassingly secular culture (of which, in many ways, we are all a part) would be explanation enough for so many young adults walking away from the faith. Add to it the burgeoning disdain for Christianity and mockery of Christians on many college campuses and you’ve got yourself a boiling hotbed for disbelief. But our God is so faithful. We know He will retain a voice in the generations on the latter-day Kingdom calendar because Matthew 24 says that the testimony of Jesus Christ has to make it into every people group. Revelation 19 also tells us that He will return for a Bride refined and made ready. Jesus will indeed raise His Church to her feet but the closer and closer we get to His return, the stronger and stronger she must be. She will know a persecution and ultimately a suffering that 20th Century Westerners could never have imagined.

I saw about 22,000 reasons for high hopes in the last forty-eight hours. You see, Passion isn’t for the faint of heart. The schedule is packed and the sessions are refreshingly unrushed. About two seconds into the conference you lose that warm, fuzzy feeling that any god goes. If you’ve got an aversion to Jesus, you’ve got an aversion to Passion. The Word of God is preached and taught, read aloud and read in unison. The worship is…well…impossible to describe. Just go right ahead and anxiously anticipate the worship CD that will come out of it somewhere down the road. World missions and the needs of the downcast and suffering are kept at the forefront constantly and the 268 concept for the “Go-Center” is nothing less than genius. (Google all of this if this is news to you. You will be astounded and your faith will surge.)

Even this very moment, the Word of God is being implanted in those thousands upon thousands of young lives. Words that can save. Words that can sanctify. Words that can serve. Words that can send. Words that can be shared.

That’s the power of God. That’s the power of His Spirit. That’s the power of His Word.

That’s the power of Jesus.

Let’s keep saying it until every knee bows and every tongue confesses He is Lord.

Amen! Ready for an incredible 2011.