Monday, December 17, 2012

noel

holiday prank


We came home from our overnight in Cleveland to ribbons hugging the house.  I assumed it was our repeat offenders or my best friend's family in Seattle (who go around their neighborhood doing pranks like this - they call themselves the "Christmas Ninjas"), but found out it was actually our former roomie, Amanda.  

It was when we arrived at her apartment for a housewarming party yesterday, that we saw the same ribbon hugging her front door.  The secret was out.

Holiday cheer, indeed.

Friday, December 14, 2012

meteor shower


My husband is so cool, he got a meteor shower on his birthday.

No really, it's true.

Last night, we stood out under the stars with mouths open in expectation.  We were told that the best time to see the action would be between 10pm-3am.  We chose the 10:30pm hour and were amazed by the pieces of light falling from the sky.

It was a perfectly clear 37 degrees.  

The suspense was better than a movie, as we watched and waited in-between stars.  I gasped and giggled every time I saw one fall, and enjoyed listening to my hubby share meteor facts with me. We received text messages from friends throughout the night expressing their own amazement by how awesome it was.

I have a tradition of surprising Chris for his birthday every year, and yesterday was the beginning of this year's surprise.  I wish I could claim the meteor shower, but I can't.  I can claim the new books I bought for him, the spa treatment I gave him, and the surprises I have in store for tonight and tomorrow.

God wins with the light display, but I'll win with affection.

You can't hug and kiss a meteor, after all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

endurance


"Say the word snicker doodle in a funny accent."  
"What kind of music do you like?"  
"What was your favorite class in school?"
"Who is your coolest ancestor?"
"Have you seen the new Twilight movie?"

These were just some of the things that eleven year-old Kaitlyn talked about on our road trip to Cowen, WV.  This was also the girl who told me (about a hundred times that week) that she was "so excited" to go on her first missions trip with us.  Her enthusiasm was so cute!  Also sitting in our backseat were fifteen year-old, Amber, and 22 year-old, Chloe.  Two weeks ago, the five of us, along with 27 other volunteers, caravanned to West Virginia for our third outreach to the community of Webster Springs.  


Last year, I collected friendship bracelets from around the country in preparation for our inaugural trip.  Seven months after that, we went back to the area for two additional days and provided them with food, manual labor, and spa services.  It was a poignant mission during those months, but even more so this time around, since we've come to recognize some of the families and they us.  I'm already getting excited about our fourth trip next summer.  The more we go, the deeper my heart loves the place and its people.

For this visit, we partnered with two Lutheran churches from Massillon, OH, and hosted a Christmas party, complete with party food, decorations, presents, and entertainment.  We planned the show this time, which included games, interactive songs, dancing, a skit, a message by Pastor Chip, and 44 hand chimes that we played as we sang Christmas carols together.









We had a full house.  It was good, noisy fun!

Along with pre-arranged gifts for the kids, we had an abundance of donated stuffed animals, clothing and crafts.  We also prepared 500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that got packed in to 500 lunch sacks, along with fruit and snack items.  We wanted to be sure each family had enough food to feed their household that day.








Singing assembly line!  We hollered out every showtune, Disney theme song, and Christmas carol we could think of (in 3-part harmony) to help our sandwich-making project go by faster.




Our guests came empty-handed and left overflowing.

Before the party started, some of us went to Gary & Lily's Mission to see how the volunteer dorm was coming along and to drop off donated items for their warehouse.  What a timely gift it was to bring them a rental truck full of drugstore items.  Our guys filled their empty warehouse floor-to-ceiling with goods, including pink Snuggies.  It was a joy to see just how far along the dormitory has come.  It has walls and windows now!






Even in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (Webster Springs endured three feet of snow in one day, downed trees, and a month without power!), this community is surviving and finding hope in a barren place.  Their stories were emotional and their faces weathered, but nothing seemed to break their resolve.

God bless them, every one. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

holy curds

© photo credit: www.blog.fooducate.com

In at least eight places in the Bible, curds are mentioned.

They are often paired with honey, sometimes in the company of nobles and majesty.  Other times they are used as a remedy for starvation, an analogy, or a precursor to wrath.

Cheese curds are serious business.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

boiling eggs


I learned a new way to boil eggs, thanks to Shauna Ahern who writes the beloved Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef blog. 

If I told you how I used to boil eggs, I suspect you'd either a) give me the sympathetic head tilt ("You just did what you saw someone else do when you were growing up - it's not your fault.") or b) give me "the Mom look" ("How many times do I have to tell you?  If you play with boiling water, you will get burned.").  I would hope for option "a," but wouldn't be surprised by option "b."

My old ways were risky, wet, and splattery.  I almost always scalded myself, and the eggs would often burst open or crack. 

Well, not anymore!  Here are the instructions from Shauna herself (from this post):  "Put the eggs on the bottom of a large pot, big enough to fit all the eggs comfortably, but not so big that they’ll rattle around in there.  Pour in the vinegar (1/4 cup white vinegar). Cover the eggs with enough water that there’s an inch of water above the eggs.  Turn the burner on high.  Bring the water to boil. Turn off the heat.  Wait 10 minutes.  Run cold water over the eggs until they are cool to the touch."

Goodbye first-degree burns, hello avocado deviled eggs!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

advent



"O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, 
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels,
the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Emmanuel!"
-Phillips Brooks, 1868

Happy second Sunday of Advent!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

kombucha


My wellness doctor served me kombucha in a Riedel glass this morning.  Funny guy.

A few things you should know:

1.  Chris and I have become friends with said doctor and his wife over the past year.  They came to our house Tuesday night for dinner, where we had a discussion about drinking wine out of Riedel glasses and the fermentation process of a living organism.  

2.  The term "living organism" does not mean the culture will move like something out of an alien movie, contrary to my thinking.

3.  Tim and Ali live in the apartment above his office, which is where he keeps his home-brewed kombucha and drinking glasses.

Similar to Amish Friendship Bread, you need a starter to make it.  Not similar to Amish Friendship Bread are the health benefits.  If I drink enough of this stuff, I might just live forever.  Bottoms up!