Wednesday, November 30, 2011


It's snowing in Medina today.

Wet snow, it probably won't stick.  But, it seems this is the beginning of our winter.  Strange to think that less than a week ago, hubby and I were riding bikes together on a 60 degree afternoon.

Mainly, I wanted to show you the new fingerless mittens I ordered from ModCloth.  They arrived yesterday, just in time for the freeze.

Cute and practical, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Something exciting happened to me this month.  

My little business was featured in a local publication called Mimi Vanderhaven!  I was interviewed and photographed and waited on pins and needles for the release date.  

In tandem with the article, I offered discount vouchers (similar to Groupon).  I had 50 available, and wasn't sure how long they would take to sell.  I thought, 90 days?  Maybe 60?  No less than a month, I was convinced.  My vouchers sold out in FOUR days!  

I'm pleased with how the article reflected my heart for what I do, and I'm eager to become a fixture in this community.  The response was.. is.. incredible.  I just love all of the phone calls and e-mails I've received, and all of the new faces I've touched.  

"I've been given the gift of helping people look good and feel better about themselves and I don't take that lightly."

I meant every word.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  

Everyone is in a good mood.  Homes smell like love (love smells like pumpkin pie and apple cider, in case you were wondering).  People say nice things to each other.  God is given the credit He's due.

Oh yeah, and I get to stuff my face with food I only eat once a year.

Last Thanksgiving, we joined two different houses for two full meals, and savored the traditions of each family.  Today, we'll be joining another two families, in one big home.  In a couple of hours, I'll be preparing my blue cheese stuffed mushrooms and green bean casserole (the bright cheesy kind that makes you want to eat your vegetables) to take to the feast.  Note: I add crushed garlic to the recipe, extra green beans, and I bake at 350 degrees.

With my family, we used to talk about the things we were thankful for before the meal.  Now, we talk about it as we're eating.  I mean, who wants to have a long discussion while hungry?  Especially when a plate of everything wonderful is baiting you?  Our items of thanks are represented by uncooked corn kernels.  We go around the table taking turns speaking our gratitude out loud and then drop the kernels in to a bowl.  

Because I tend to be long-winded, I have a two kernel limit.

Ah, I miss our families.  Sure, we are surrounded by dear friends who have become our Ohio family, but there is something about being with the ones you grew up with or joined by marriage.  So, today my two corn kernels go to the extended Kelly and Holowaty families.

You are our favorite blessings.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I'll admit it.  I'm a little food obsessed.

I'm that girl who takes pictures of her meal before she eats it, and I pretty much have to restrain myself from saying something about food every time I sit down to write a blog entry.  I just love sharing my culinary adventures with anyone who will listen.  

Like here, here, here, here, and here.  This year, I doubled the food posts.  I apologize in advance if this increase becomes a habit. Some days I can't help myself.  

P.S.  Calling myself a "foodie" makes me feel better about the whole thing.  

Which is why the food tour Chris and I went on for our wedding anniversary this year will hardly come as a surprise to you.  We took food tours in Seattle when we lived there,  discovered new things about a place we adore, and tasted a variety of savory bites from local vendors.

This time around, we toured a town that several friends in Medina have encouraged us to check out.  They said it was artsy and eclectic and lined with interesting places to eat.  They were right.  Tremont is my new favorite Cleveland neighborhood!  For generations, Tremont was an Eastern European immigrant town, and even housed the short-lived Cleveland University.  Like the rest of the city, Tremont has a bit of a depressed history, but those who live there now are loyal.  

We started our tour at Lincoln Park, where we met up with the rest of our party (a blended family of five).  Due to a snafu with the tour company, our tour guide, and the departure time, the seven of us got to listen to a psychodelic-jazz-fusion band play in the gazebo while we waited.

Not pleasant. 

Thankfully, the ear bleeding only lasted half an hour (!) before our guide arrived and we began our brisk walk.  There were four food stops along the way that started with chicken & waffles at The South Side and ended with chocolate at Lilly.  The in-between included pizza at Lago, a stroll past several art galleries, hipster coffeeshops and creatively angled homes, and a sampling of curry dishes at Ty Fun.  Lilly was my favorite taste of them all.       

Not only was it bright (pink) and inviting, but shop owner, Amanda Montague, actually introduced herself to us and told us all about her business.  As if her personality wasn't enough (seriously, she deserves her own Food Network show), she gave us a sampling of her handmade truffles perfectly paired with a peach lambic.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think to pair chocolate with beer, until Lilly.

After that happy tasting, I knew I was hooked.  I promptly filled a 12 piece box with my new little truffle friends.  Amanda was sure to remind us to consume the chocolates within ten days.  

They lasted two.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Living in the midwest is lovely, but I do miss many things about the west coast, including all of the little bistros and restaurants and street musicians, and that vibe that makes Seattle so great.

Treehugger’s Café transports me back to the place inside of me that naps during sticky Ohio summers and applies hand lotion again and again during the cold dry winter months.  Everything about this space (the ambiance, the menu, the staff, the café’s commitment to local agriculture and organic farming) makes that inside place come alive.

Last month, my friend Brenda took me here for the first time.  She and I shared an eggplant panini and a black bean burger with a sweet cinnamony carrot salad on the side.  The panini was my favorite of the two sandwiches, but that pretzel bread surrounding the black bean burger was pretty tasty.  On Wednesday, Anna and I went here for lunch (this was her first time).  Anna had the lemon chicken & pesto panini with tomato basil soup, while I had a leafy green salad and a bowl of their vegan pumpkin soup.

While I may have to drive a ways to get here, and it might not be surrounded by six coffeeshops, mountains, or unshaven bike messengers, I do appreciate the effort.  Treehugger’s Café will be there when I need my northwest fix.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Our trip to Gettysburg wasn't just a history lesson.  

It was my first district foursquare conference, a fun getaway road trip (just the two of us), the best-night's-sleep-in-a-hotel-bed experience I've ever had, and a history lesson.

As you would imagine, the town is patriotic and everything nods to the events that happened in July of 1863.  Images of our forefathers and the American flag were a common sight.  Even the carpeting in the Wyndam was presidential.  

Sightseeing was on our agenda (naturally), so we decided to spend some time at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. The Cyclorama was stunning!  We only toured the inside, but there were several other tours available along the path of the battle. There was no way you could leave Gettysburg without mentioning the American Civil War.  

Even for me (not a history buff), this was fascinating and unforgettable.  It certainly gave me a new appreciation for my freedom.
The conference itself was a warm slice of midwestern pie.  

We met some wonderful people within our denomination, listened to inspiring speakers, prayed with others and received prayer, and shared in Communion with a hundred other attendees.  Awards were handed out, pastors were ordained, Gaither-style music was sung, and we all even held hands at one point during the weekend.  

We are charismatic, after all.

"I hope peace will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time."
- Abraham Lincoln, August 26, 1863

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Last Friday, we had our first snowfall of the year.  Last night, we had a thunder & lightning storm (including a Tornado Watch).

The weather here continues to excite us, even if it means all of the leaves my husband and neighbors raked to the curb will likely be blown back in to their yards.

Our city sends vehicles around the neighborhood to suck up the leaves.

Just not today.

Monday, November 14, 2011


How do I love thee, Argentine husband of mine?

Let me count the ways.

10.  Yerba maté.    
9.  You have the most darling abuela.
8.  You love your mother.
7.  Empanadas.
6.  World Cup Soccer.
5.  Dulce de Leche.
4.  Your Spanish is s-e-x-y.
3.  You buy me flowers.
2.  You help me be a better me.
1.  Chimichurri steak & leg of lamb.

Happy anniversary, mi sueño.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Punxsutawney, PA.  

Home of Gobbler's Knob and a rodent named Phil.

It was our halfway destination en route to Gettysburg last week for a district foursquare conference.  We were so eager to walk the streets where Bill Murray may or may not have walked during the filming of the comedy Groundhog Day, that I left the youth retreat after midnight on Saturday and we started our drive East early the next afternoon.

We lost count of how many small towns we drove through along the way, but were pleasantly surprised by the snow on the ground and the children dressed in costumes.  It made up for the fact that I was missing my favorite thing about Halloween (handing out candy to the neighbor kids) and was a sight that endeared both of us.   

Farnsworth House was where we slept that first night.  A delightful Bed & Breakfast located in East Run (Marion Center), PA, owned and operated by two gentlemen named Jon & Bill, Farnsworth House was an unexpected treat.  Jon restores player pianos and makes a mean omelette, Bill is an interior designer, and their home is an opulent treasure in the middle of nowhere.

Our proprietors were wonderful.  Hospitable and friendly, they even stayed up late with us sharing stories from their childhood and giving us a tour of their antiquities.  My hubby had a turn at the player piano player (also called a pianola).  It's an intriguing art that you can learn more about here.  Bill sang music from The Producers as Chris worked the piano player with his feet and hands.  Between the music and storytelling and Bill's fresh baked cookies, we had a truly lovely evening with two new friends.  In the morning, I asked Jon to tell me about the dinner parties they've had in their home, and more stories of grandeur emerged.  They even suggested an Italian restaurant in a neighboring town that served me the best handmade fettucini I've ever eaten.

After our goodbyes, we drove the remaining fifteen miles to Punxsutawney.  We were greeted by a large wooden sign in the shape of a groundhog wearing a top hat, and a gas station attendant who pumped our gas for us.  I asked him if it was the law in Pennsylvania, like it is in Oregon.  He said no, it's just a service they like to provide (free of charge).  

Nice folks.

In all honesty, Punxsutawney wasn't much to see.  I mean, what can you expect from 3.4 square miles?: a gift shop, Phil's Burrow, Gobbler's Knob, and several fiberglass statues of Phantastic Phils. The McDonald's in town was featuring their McRib sandwich, does that count?  

At some point that afternoon, it occurred to me that the animal this town is famous for is a distant relative of the one digging holes in our backyard.    

And yet, we bought a mug.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

permanent record

Well, I officially survived my third retreat with the Cornerstone youth (I have the t-shirt to prove it).  The theme was "Permanent Record." Our speaker was Luis Patten.

During the weekend, I helped facilitate a class on making friendship bracelets, and instead of a skit, I played guitar (first time in a long time) and sang a Shawn McDonald song.  Rachel played with me, and Brandon played the djembe.  Pastor Mike was this close to playing his harmonica.  It felt good to remind the kids that they are loved, and God can make beauty from ashes.

© photo credit: Kairie Weber

© photo credit: Kit Begovich

Plus, Luis brought his cute wife, Erin.  She is one of us now.

© photo credit: Tori Conrad

Tears were shed, strongholds were laid down, grudges were forgiven, and everyone got a reset.  One of the quotes Luis shared that the kids resonated with was this, "hurt people hurt people, free people free people."

© photo credit: Kairie Weber

Walk in freedom, friends.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

autumn rose

“More exquisite than any other is the Autumn rose.”
Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigne

Monday, November 7, 2011


Some funny things I do:

* When I put shopping carts away, I like making them crash in to each other.
* I wear my purse when I drive.
* I use lots of heart symbols and smiley faces when I write e-mails and texts and Facebook posts. 
* I love going to farmer/artisan markets, even if I don't buy anything.
* The 10 second rule always applies to my dropped food.
* I have to end conversations and written messages with a proper goodbye.
* I always want a bite of the meal you order at a restaurant, and will usually ask for it as my fork is nearing your plate.  (Is that funny or annoying?)
* I like apples, but not apple-flavored things.
* I make a facial expression (Chris calls it "the turtle") when I'm being clever.
* I tend to laugh at the parts in movies that no one else is laughing at.
* I often throw an extra "I love you" my husband's way when we fall asleep at night, to ensure that my last statement is sincere.  I mean, it would be a shame if one of us died in our sleep to the final words of "Man, I'm gassy!", "Hey babe, did you put the trash out?" or, "Is that water I hear in the basement?"

What funny things do you do?

Sunday, November 6, 2011


October was Clergy Appreciation Month.

I know Chris is considered "clergy" now, but it still didn't register with me that we would receive cards and gifts because of it.  Such a kind thing for our church community to do!  Some of the cards even had my name on them, and people wrote the most thoughtful words.  

Today I was given two gifts.. just for me!  Two beautiful Autumn-themed kitchen linens from Mary, and a large Ziploc bag full of Pam's famous spaghetti and meatball sauce.  My sister even texted to tell me about the handwoven bag she found for me at an auction.

While we don't need tangible things to feel appreciated, they sure are a nice surprise.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

cali cuisine

While my husband watches The Matrix, I'm thinking about dinner. (Classic Holowatys.)  

In this moment, I am reminded of the crazy delicious food we had during our visit to Southern California in September.  

Cue drool.

In-N-Out burgers & fries.

Wahoo's fish tacos.

Vegan rose-cardamom & chocolate cupcakes ala Native Foods.

Chunky chili & gluten-free cornbread ala Brad & Susie.

Homemade waffles with whipped cream, blueberries & lemon curd.  One of the many blissful dishes our host friends made for us during our stay.  

Kale & white bean salad, butternut squash soup, 17-bean soup & collard greens (not shown), and honey/brie/toasted pinenut crostinis ala Don & Amber & company (the crostinis are one of my specialities - inspired by a restaurant in Italy).

Light & savory chicken tostadas ala Marina.

Pink's dogs & onion rings.

BBQ chicken (and tuna steaks - not shown), baked potatoes, corn, and fresh-out-of-the-oven dinner rolls ala Tony & Erin.

Thank you for indulging me.