Saturday, May 26, 2012


I have a new celebrity crush.

Everyone knows I adore Kat Von D (I even named my car after her). Regardless of how the media has portrayed her personal life over the years, I see her as an overcomer, strong and electric.  Plus, she wears those tattoos so well.  Then, there's Michael Symon.  A famous chef and Food Network darling, he pretty much revamped the Cleveland restaurant scene.  And he's so darn cute.

Last weekend I developed a new crush on Ani Phyo, an organic raw foods expert and advocate for clean living.  I read her Raw Food Kitchen cookbook on our road trip to Knoxville and was inspired.  I give all the credit to my new friend, Jennifer Wegryn.  She was the raw foods educator with a table next to mine at March's "Live Well 2012" trade show. She showed us Ani Phyo's book, with all of its beautiful pictures, and told us that she was also inspired by this woman's story.  Jennifer has her own business as a certified living foods educator.  I can't wait to attend one of her classes!  I recently purchased a Spiralizer (another Jennifer-recommended item), and hope to start digging in to Ani's recipes next month.

Hubby and I have more traveling in the coming week.  He is attending a foursquare convention in Phoenix, while I am visiting family and friends in Seattle.  In Tennessee and surely in Washington, I will eat heavier than I normally do.  With as intentional as we've been in our dietary changes this year, we need a good splurge every now and then.

This brings us to the blender.  Some day I hope to acquire a Vitamix or Blendtec (hint hint, hubby).  You know the really cool ones that pulverize anything you put in them, and don't burn out after two years (my curse)?  A food processor would be nice, too.  But for now, we are giving our Oster blender a workout by making green/fruit smoothies every day this week.  It's a way of cleansing our bodies from the indulgence before and the indulgence to come.

We've used a combination of fresh citrus, berries, apples, pears, mango, tomatoes, banana, celery, cucumber, spinach, kale, bell peppers and avocado, in addition to soy yogurt, almond milk and ice. Yesterday I made a smoothie with strawberries, mint, honey, agave, chocolate protein powder, unsweetened cocoa, and tofu.  I was the only one who liked it.  The tofu made it so creamy, but I guess not everyone likes the taste of tofu.  Creativity doesn't always pay off, but it's fun to try.  I've referred to this website a few times for smoothie recipes, as well as Victoria Boutenko's book, 12 Steps to Raw Foods.  I'm learning as I go along, and have had some good results.

Now, if Ani Phyo would just come to Cleveland for a book signing, cooking class, or accompany me to the farmer's market, I would be complete.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

police blotter: usual suspects

REST NOT RUBBISH, W. NORTH: A landlord on W. North Street called police Sept. 22, reporting that a man was attempting to illegally dump a mattress on the property.  The alleged suspect was actually only taking a break because he was tired.  He was carrying the mattress from Court to Bronson Street.

FAR, FAR AWAY.. N. STATE: Police were called to a N. State Street around 2:20a.m. Nov. 7 upon report of a disturbance.  According to the police report, the suspects were arguing about "light saber etiquette."  No citations or charges were filed in the case.

SKUNK, S. JEFFERSON: An officer witnessed a skunk running along S. Jefferson Street at 8:15a.m., Aug. 28.  While the sight of a skunk was not out of the ordinary, this one had a yogurt cup stuck on its head.  It could not free itself.  The cup was removed.

DISTURBANCE: Police were called to intervene March 23 when people complained about a couple fighting over custody of their lizard.  The male was able to leave with the reptile.

SUSPICIOUS DISCOVERY: A woman called police and said she found a human vertebrae bone in her garden March 23 and wanted the police to test it for DNA.  It was sent to  the Medina County coroner to determine if it was human or animal bone.

FLOWERS, MEDINA LIBRARY: Police came across a suspicious juvenile boy near the Medina County District Library around 10:20p.m. Nov. 13.  When officers confronted the boy, he said he was cutting flowers for his girlfriend.  Police took the boy home.

STRANGE LOVE NOTE, N. COURT: It was a strange way to display affection - a simple card would have done fine.  An assailant allegedly broke into the garage of a N. Court Street home, entering through a locked main door, and spray-painted the words "I love you" on the inner facing of the garage door.  The damage was found around 9a.m. on Nov. 9.

NOISES, FREEPORT: A Freeport Drive woman told police that she heard noises from her basement, including what she thought was her television turning on by itself, at about 9:50a.m. on March 4. Officers checked the home and found everything secure.

CUPPED, S. HARMONY: Officers were called to a S. Harmony Street home Jan. 25 to assist a resident who complained that someone drove by his house and threw a cup at him sometime before 4p.m.  No arrests have been made in the drive-by cupping.

HAIR WARS, MINER: A caller told police that loud yelling and crying could be heard coming from a Miner Drive apartment around 2:30p.m. Jan. 25.  Was it domestic dispute or assault?  Neither. Police responded and discovered that a child was throwing a fit over having its hair done.

STRANGE ODOR, W. FRIENDSHIP: A W. Friendship Street resident told police that a strange odor was emanating from the downstairs neighbor's apartment on Nov. 19.  Officers responded to the address, checked with the neighbor, and determined that the strange smell was the neighbor's dinner.  There was no criminal offense committed, only an offended neighbor.

Welcome to Ohio.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


It was an eight hour drive to Knoxville, a road trip hubby and I talked about for a month.  We amassed our favorite snacks, rented audio books from the library, and packed our bags for the four day adventure.  I smiled as I stepped over two remaining hearts from Valentine's Day on my way to the front passenger seat.

This was going to be a good trip, I could already tell.

We know the Chandlers from our Southern California days, and have missed them ever since.  Erik drove to meet us the day we arrived in Medina two years ago.  They are salt of the earth kind of people, and the trip was refreshing (everything we could hope for, really).  I had a few friends and clients comment to me how lovely the drive is and all of the mountains we would see along the way.  

The miles we covered were lined with a lush green landscape and a skyline that alternated colors of blues and grey.  Occasionally we'd see a waterfall pouring out of shale, a rolling creek, or an overhang of trees.  It helped that we were detoured off the main highway in Kentucky, due to construction.  Even though the driving was slowed way down and our car almost overheated, the scenery was gorgeous. When we put down the windows, the air smelled warm and damp, like the smell of summer camp.  Stephen King and Neil Gaiman told us stories from the stereo, as we inched along.

Eventually, with streets named "Bluegrass" and "Straw Flower Rd," we knew we were getting close.  We found "Barley Circle," and the Chandlers welcomed us with open arms and a beautiful home.

Each night together, we enjoyed dinner out, grown-up conversation, dessert, and wine.  During each day, we were blessed with the energy and sounds and interaction of children and family.. and naps (glorious!).  We attended 6 year-old, Elijah's, baseball game on Saturday with Erik's parents, Joe & Betty.  Joe is a retired preacher, and a real character.  He and Betty are well-matched in spirit and personality.  Between the charm and the drawl, I could listen to the two of them talk all day long.

Sunday's activities included a visit to Fellowship Church, where Erik is one of the pastors on staff.  It was a sea of khaki pants and polo shirts, spring dresses and smiles.  We enjoyed communing with our southern brothers and sisters, and seeing what a church of 3000 looks like in this part of the country.  They have a good thing going, to be sure.  P.S.  Erik designed the website.  

After lunch, we ventured to the Great Smoky Mountains, and Cades Cove.  We drove through the national park/nature reserve and caught sight of wild horses, deer, turkeys, and a fox.

Two of the horses walked right towards us and passed us on the main road.  This got a rise out of Kim, as she feared they might stick their heads in the car window and snatch her children.  It seemed about as rational as my reaction to the gigantic winged bug that came through that same window and dive bombed me.  I couldn't stop flailing about, exclaiming, "I can't handle it!  I can't handle it!"  Thankfully, the men in our vehicle held things together.  No babies were kidnapped by rambling equine, and eventually the bug found its way outside.

Our destination was the Historic District where we toured a replica of a mountain community made up of old cabins, churches, and a water mill.  While I was hoping to see Dolly Parton in Tennessee, I had to settle for a CD of hers being sold in the Cades Cove country store. Isn't she adorable?

At least two dozen pictures were taken between Erik and myself; and a satisfying drive was made complete with dinner at a barbecue restaurant, where I swear the waitress asked if we wanted a "baby 'possum" as an appetizer.  What's that?  Oh, she said, "Cactus Blossom."  My mistake.

© photo credit: Erik Chandler

© photo credit: Erik Chandler
"I have so much stuff in here, I even have fake beards!" reported Eli, while showing me something in his room Saturday night.  He is a witty kid, and he doesn't even know it.  Eli is also scary smart and extremely articulate.  He reminds me of my nephew, Lars.

My favorite Elijah-isms were when I overheard him talking to Siri on his parents' cell phones.  He told me his favorite things to tell her are: "Show me all the spy stuff in the world."  "What are adenoids?" "Show me lasers."  And, "bring me a cupcake."  He also lost his first tooth on Sunday while we were there.  He was so funny about it, hesitant then all of a sudden brave.  While recounting the drama throughout the rest of the afternoon, he told us how he twisted it, then the bleeding, and exactly how he felt in the moment: "Oh my gosh, I was freaking out!"  So many laughable moments with that guy.

Saying goodbye was hard, especially with 2 year-old, Jude, repeating my name over and over again.  He is a ginger-haired cutie without fear, a disdain for dirt between his toes, and a laugh that could melt the coldest heart.

I miss the Chandlers already.

The drive back to Ohio was easy and accompanied by a Eugene Peterson memoir on CD, and my Ani Phyo and Victoria Boutenko books about raw foods.  InStyle magazine also kept me company, as did texting and cell phone games, and occasional breaks from the audio book to talk with my husband about ministry, relationships, diet, childhood memories, and keeping the Sabbath.  I love road-tripping with my man.

Upon arrival, Amanda greeted us with colorful signs and hugs.  

Take me home, country roads.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

she is beautiful

Happy Mother's Day, to the one who carried me in her womb, loved me through years of bed-wetting and ear infections, fought for me when I was too afraid to fight for myself, hugged me tightly when my words were overwhelmed by tears, sat with me through doctor appointments and emergency room visits, let me watch the movies my dad didn't approve of, still slips me a twenty dollar bill when I come home to visit, attended all of my choir concerts and soccer games and helped me with my student council campaigns in high school, sent me care packages in college, made my favorite cake on my birthday, teaches me compassion and grace by example, laughs with me while riding kiddie rides, and is always ready for penny slots, card games, go-karts, and baby holding.

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” - Washington Irving  

Friday, May 11, 2012

bean soup

Beans are magical, as the song goes.

15 kinds of beans in one pot?  You do the math.

While it may end up being a room clearer, the flavor punch and nutritional value make it worth the gas.  I'm always on the look-out for flavorful, healthy meals and this one satisfies.

I added smoked turkey sausage, garlic, barbecue sauce and celery to my recipe, and served it with whole wheat dinner rolls on the side.

Nom nom nom.

Friday, May 4, 2012

baking love

Chloe and I baked cupcakes on Wednesday.

It was her idea: a gift for a fellow youth leader and friend who recently had hip surgery.  Chloe brought the goods, I kept her company.  I also made the extra creamy cream cheese frosting, and helped dress the little treats in pastel.

She did the rest, and told me stories along the way.

It was a good excuse to spend time together and make my house smell delicious.

Chloe is sweet: cupcake sweet.

(pretty much the best kind.)