Friday, January 28, 2011

baking bread

After several days of tending to my burning eyeballs, it was nice to feel reprieve and do something fun. Educational, even.

Today I went to Jane Bell's house to learn how to make bread from scratch.

I love to bake, but there are a few things I've avoided in my life thus far due to timidity. Bread tops the list with cheesecake and chocolate souffle placing close behind.

Bread from scratch always reminds me of having overnights with my BFF, Amie. She and I have known each other since the third grade, and spent a lot of time at each other's houses when we were kids. She loved making brownies and mac-n-cheese at my house because they came from a box, while I found her mom's cooking from scratch to be novel. I still remember the first time I watched Ginger cut slices of sandwich bread from a loaf she had made that morning.

It was as if she was performing a magic trick. I was amazed.

Jane is an excellent teacher. She is patient, and enjoys detail when giving instruction. She also shares lots of options for how to go about the business of bread-making (I had no idea there were so many techniques!).

We decided to stick with the basics.

If you are a seasoned bread-maker, you know about the sourdough starter, aerating the dough, kneading, kneading, pounding and kneading, letting the dough rise (and rise some more), preparing the egg wash, then eventually.. putting it in the oven.

Surprising to me, the actual baking part was the shortest step of them all!

Amanda joined the party, and we both took a loaf home to bake in our own ovens.
We sent each other pictures on our phones and texted each other reports on how the bread tasted. We were very happy with the results, as were our dinner guests.

Isn't that the prettiest loaf you ever did see?

Thanks to Jane, I faced my fear
and learned a new skill.

While I do plan on baking bread from scratch again, I think I'll keep my eyes open for a discounted bread machine.

Like Jane said, it's good to have options.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

double trouble

I had a feeling my eye irritation was more than just allergies when I had to pry both of them open this morning with my fingers.

Dr. Scroggins at Urgent Care confirmed my suspicion and diagnosed me with a double eye infection.

One that is contagious for 24 hours.

As much as you might be fascinated by my red oozing oculars, I thought I'd spare you by drawing you a picture instead of taking a photo. The only colored pens I could find were a black Sharpie and highlighters. The pink is actually for red and the yellow (which is practically invisible against the orange paper) is actually milky discharge releasing through the corners of my lash line, and the black squiggly marks represent the burning sensation I feel.

Who wants a butterfly kiss?

The doctor said it's possible I got this from the cold bug I've had hanging around in my body all month. She explained that the infection can travel from the sinuses up to my tear ducts and in to the eyes. Who knew? Cross-contamination is also possible. I mean, I wash my hands often, but probably touch my eyes more. I really don't like eye gunk, so perhaps my days have been numbered.

Either way, I have to avoid everyone today and disinfect everything I touch. Starting with this keyboard.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

lucky strike

Medina Lanes looks pretty sketchy from the outside. Chris and I were sure it was a ghost town, until we started getting invitations from friends to bowl there.

Ghost town it is not, at least not on the weekends.

I went for my first time last Friday night with members of our music ministry from church. Hubby organized the event and an eager group showed up.

My first thought when I entered the place was, 'Hmmmm.. smells like popcorn!' Which was a change from the stale cigarette smoke I was used to smelling on the west coast. Then I saw just how big the place was inside and felt the electricity in the air.

We were surrounded by serious bowlers. Medina Lanes, I underestimated you.

When I play, I push for everyone to make up a bowling name. You know, to spice up the competition. Mine is 'SloMo,' because of my slow motion strategy to knocking down pins. I promise you it works (most of the time). My favorite bowling names from our outing were The Slammer, Angel Wings and Orange Crush.

Chloe used to bowl in high school and arrived with her custom pink bowling bag, ball and shoes. We were all impressed (I was slightly intimidated). Everyone cheered everyone else on and we had some good laughs, especially when Rachel's ball bounced out of the gutter to complete her strike, and I lost my balance doing a spin on my heels, falling dramatically to the ground.. then I rolled around.

It made sense in the moment.

My husband is Orange Crush and he has a special spinning technique when it comes to rolling the ball. I couldn't duplicate it if I tried.

Our teams had a nice collection of strikes that night, which got us discussing whether or not someone in the United States has ever bowled a perfect game. The consensus was yes.. and they were right. Local Matt Latarski bowled a perfect game in Oakwood, Ohio last year. He is the 17th person to roll a 900 in the history of bowling.

Nine hundred points is a tall order.

I'm just happy I broke 100, and beat The Slammer.. twice.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

one year

© photo credit:

One year ago today, our dear friend Heather drove us to the airport for our early morning flight to Cleveland.

The weeks prior had been a whirlwind of e-mails, schedule changes, and phone conversations. All of which were paving the way for our next big adventure.

When we arrived in Ohio, we were met by Pastor Jeff Kolodziej, a bear of a man with my sense of humor. He was easy to hug and welcomed us with midwest charm. Mary Jane, his wife, drove the getaway van, and was equally as friendly.

It's hard to believe a year has passed since that day. I remember it like it was last Tuesday, and still find our residence here to be somewhat surreal.

Funny, there was snow on the ground when we arrived, and snow on the ground today.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Look at this cute cowl Melanie made for me!

It was a gift for my birthday that she gave me on New Year's Eve.  I was over the moon!  She is quite skilled at knitting and always working on a project.  I had secretly hoped some day one of her projects would be mine.  Not only did she make every stitch by hand, but she picked out fabric that was organic and extra soft for my sensitive skin.

Function and fashion, how about that?

While we're at it, can I just say that I love how my lips look in this photo?  Thanks to the C.O. Bigelow lip gloss Amber recommended I try last year.  I found a flavor/color I adore at Bath & Body Works called Mentha Lip Tint.  It's pink and minty.

And my hair!  Can you believe how long it is?  As some of you know, my hair was down my back in high school, all one length.  I think I tried bangs once because Kelly Taylor of (the original) 90210 TV series had fun bangs.  Other than that disaster, my hair remained the same.  During my sophomore year of college I went short, with layers.  I was in love.  I never went back to long hair again.  In fact, my hair kept getting shorter, as I experimented with different versions of the "short & choppy."

I was convinced I had a "short hair personality."

Whatever that means.

Then I moved to Ohio and got anxious about finding someone new.  I tried a stylist once at a salon up the street from our house.  Okay, but not great.  Then, I had my friend Wes cut my hair at his salon in Seattle when I visited last September.  He did a marvelous job, but I decided then I wanted to keep the length.  I haven't had it cut since, and it continues to grow (I forgot that actually happens when you leave it alone).  Turns out, I'm falling for it this way and want to see a few more inches before I make any changes.

Ohio has inspired me to start accessorizing again, too.  I quite like my small collection of earrings and bracelets.

What can I say?  I'm feeling kind of girly these days.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


"Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" is a line you're probably familiar with if you watch late night television.

Borrowing from the show's comedic genius, every few months the Cornerstone youth movement (Revolve) hosts a movie and game night called "Sunday Night Live."

Last Sunday was my first time playing SNL chaperone.

As leaders, we always wonder how many kids will show up. Due to the holiday break and inclement weather (cancelling last week's youth service), we didn't have much time to announce the event. Still, to our surprise, we had a full house. More bodies always means more participants, more options, and ultimately more fun.

Dodgeball, board games, capture the flag (in the dark.. with glow sticks), a circle game called Ninja, Wii, ping pong, card games, human Foosball and prophetic painting were the activities to choose from, not to mention the costumed characters who roamed the building handing out prizes at random. It was a lively evening complete with potato chips and pizza, and a few casualties. A broken chair, a misplaced ceiling tile, and a fractured collarbone made for an especially memorable night.

We recently had two Revolve members move away, one was a leader and the other a student. So, before the evening was through, we signed cards for them and took a few group photos to send.

Midwest youth are gorgeous, and our Sunday nights are better than prime time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Bob Rising lost his home to a chimney fire on Thanksgiving Day.

Today local residents organized a fundraiser to help Mr. Rising with the overwhelming expense of rebuilding and starting over.

We are friends with Bob's son, Skylar, and Laura Kenny, the gal who spearheaded the event. We were shocked by the news of the fire, and blessed by the stories of compassion and benevolence that have resulted.

I started the day by baking banana-coconut-chocolate chip mini muffins to be sold at the dessert table for this charity, which also included several tables of silent auction items, music, games, popcorn, karaoke, and a spaghetti dinner. It was an all-day affair that brought in neighbors, local pastors, business owners, family and friends.

Chris and I toured Bob's property this afternoon, which is located behind the town hall where the fundraiser was held. Mr. Rising was more than happy to show us around, and in talking with him, it was obvious this tragedy had been met with miracles and controversy.

While Bob is currently at odds with the city, at the same time he is receiving an abundance of donations and assistance, and he spoke to us about the kindness he has been shown. Bob is normally a recluse, but this experience has shown him how generous and loving a community can be, and has brought out his charm and sociable side.

In addition to his talk of miracles, my favorite quote, in reference to the many aid workers that came out during the blaze, was when Bob said, "I have never had that many people over to my house for Thanksgiving before!"

"There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community." - M. Scott Peck

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

baby love

Rex Patrick MacCarthy, our newest nephew on the Holowaty side, made his debut yesterday. 1-11-11. 7lb 1oz, 21in. Born at home, after four hours of labor.

My sister-in-law, Rachell (Rex's mom), is a warrior.

No doubt about it.

Being a wife and an auntie are my two favorite roles, so knowing another sweet baby entered the world for me to love renders me speechless.

(Well, almost.)

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to three dear ones who died due to three different health tragedies in recent weeks. Reading the obituaries, sending flowers, attending a memorial service, and trying to come to terms with God's mysterious ways.. it gets weary.

Baby news helps to heal those hurts and remember life in it's purest form. One of my friends named Amy, gave birth to her daughter Brooklyn Marie on 12-30-10, a friend of mine from high school, Sarah, gave birth to her son Theo Arrow on 1-4-11, my friend Becky's sister-in-law, Dannette, gave birth to Aminata last week, and now we have Rex. I'm also thrilled to learn of four new pregnancies, my friend Ali is due in March, and my other sister-in-law is finding out the sex of their little one at the end of the month.

Thank you God, for life.

Even when it's taken away, we cherish the gift.

Monday, January 10, 2011


There's just something about watching your spouse doing that thing they really enjoy, even if it's not something you'd choose for yourself.

Right now, mine is wearing headphones and watching a Superman cartoon on the other computer. He's leaning forward intently, and every so often I hear him chuckle under his breath.

So cute.

I'm sure he thinks the same thing when he sees me crying during a Lifetime movie, marveling over the beauty of a perfectly constructed plate of food, making faces at babies or swapping dramatic stories with girls half my age, and my giggles every time we drive through a puddle and it splashes water on the curb.  Or when I get that look on my face when I think I'm being clever (he calls it "The Turtle"), or when he catches me doing something sneaky (like taking a picture of the back of his head).

Being in love is fun, don't you agree?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

chicken soup

As I sit here at the dining room table on my laptop, eating Jell-o and waiting for my tea water to heat up on the stove, I am content.

Sure, I started the last four days with cold medicine and have ended them with cold medicine (thanks to whatever bug is going around), but in-between, I have laughed with friends, drove around the neighborhood with my man just to feel the ice under our tires, received forgiveness for a fifteen year-old offense, watched fresh snow fall from the sky, enjoyed a couch date with hubby and a viewing of the
Ocean's 11 movies (one of the DVD sets he gave me for my birthday), smiled at a few more Christmas/Happy New Year cards that came in the mail, cooked a zesty shrimp stir fry one night for dinner and a creamy gnocchi dish on another, took two of my junior high girls to see the movie Tangled, and met our new next-door neighbors.

I promise, Mom, I'm taking care of myself. I have slept a lot, doubled up on my vitamins, drank plenty of water, and Chris has been the perfect gentleman.

One thing I realized I haven't had during this week of being sick is chicken soup. Hubby offered it to me on Tuesday, but I believe I turned it down and ate French fries instead.

See, Mom? (wink)

I hope everyone's new year is healthy and happy and filled with more blessings than you can count.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

falling up

I tripped up the stairs yesterday.

Hubby and I were making dinner and we needed a few items from our basement pantry. On my way back from this errand, only two stairs from the top, I caught one of the steps wrong and landed on the hard floor with my shins taking the weight of the fall. My shins landed on the edge of the top step and my wrists on the landing.

Yeah, it hurt.

For sure, I thought it would leave a mark, like that one time I impaled my forehead with a broken broom handle (see picture).


The thing is, I don't show bruises easily, but I wish I did. So, at least I'd have something cool to wear for the pain, like a good scar.

I lifted my pant legs for my husband, and two girl friends who came over for lunch today, in hopes they'd see where I injured myself. I mean, after the animated story I told when I reenacted the event, you'd hope for a dramatic visual.

Ah well, maybe next time.

I tripped on my shoelace
And I fell up -
Up to the roof tops,
Up over the town,
Up past the tree tops,
Up over the mountains,
Up where the colors
Blend into the sounds.
But it got me so dizzy
When I looked around,
I got sick to my stomach
And I threw down.
Falling Up - Shel Silverstein

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Cuyahoga Valley Church is home to the 707 ministry. It's located in Broadview Heights, about a half hour from our house.

707 (Sevenoseven) is "a community of young adults who have found the amazing life that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. And it exists to tell young adults about solid hope. God has not abandoned them. It exists to fill a gap in our time. Many in our generation have felt left out at church. They want and need to express their faith in service, community, and worship. Sevenoseven gives identity and recognition to the emerging generation."

We experienced that Mission Statement first-hand at their service tonight. Which, by the way, started at 7:07pm. Clever, hu?

This ministry is led by California-born Pastor Chad Allen, who (like us) got a call from the Lord to uproot his family from the west coast and move east to Ohio. I quite like how God is merging the two cultures together, one family at a time.

Even though hubby and I felt distracted by the colored light show and camera guys recording artsy angles throughout the service, the distraction was temporary.  We discovered that this ministry is simultaneously a podcast available for download during their weekly meetings. And, as it turns out, the dimly lit room brought me to a deeper place of rest and worship.

Since arriving in Ohio, I've become used to being needed on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, which means it's a challenge to find peace in praise without interruption. The 707 service was a welcomed respite for me.

The worship/music leader is Bryan Karas. He looked like he was straight out of Seattle or Santa Cruz with his long beard, beanie and skinny jeans. He could have easily played a stand-in role for Joaquin Phoenix in the mockumentary, I'm Still Here. His passion and heart were evident and his direction was reminiscent of the worship direction at the church we left in WA, Mill Creek Foursquare.

It just felt good there.

Chris talked with Pastor Chad after the service and made a connection. While we are currently training leaders to develop a young adults ministry at Cornerstone Chapel, and hope to see the training grow in to a sustainable community, 707 is a great resource and example of how to do church.

I wish all churches would unite in one heart and one hope in the God we trust. I wish denominations weren't divided and we could all seek to love and serve each other without judgment or suspicion. Though idealistic, Chris and I are eager to see it happen here in NE Ohio. I know others of like-mind seeking this same purpose around the world, so perhaps we will all meet in the middle some day.

"Be a sweet melody in the great orchestration, instead of a discordant note. The medicine this sick world needs is love. Hatred must be replaced by love, and fear by faith that love will prevail." - Mildred Norman Ryder (Peace Pilgrim)