Thursday, May 30, 2013


I don't know what it is, but I crave citrus all the time, especially in the summertime.  I know it's not officially summer, but it feels like summer.  Today should cap off around 86 degrees in our zipcode with about a thousand percent humidity.

Citrus always sounds so bright and refreshing, don't you think?  

If you're anything like me, you will need to wake up and make these coconut lemon bombs.

They are seriously the perfect lemony bite and help to satisfy my citrus itch, while being desserty at the same time.  GF, DF, no refined sugar - only the good stuff!  The recipe makes 24 or so balls (depending on how big you roll them), but they are easy to binge on, so don't be surprised if your 24 turns in to 12 in a blink.  These treats pair nicely with juicy cut nectarine or orange slices.

Pucker up, sunshine!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

summer rose

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses." - Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Almost two years ago I dressed up as a Pink Lady from Grease.

It's been that long since we had a youth spring banquet, much to the dismay of the students.  Last Wednesday, all was redeemed with a masquerade ball.  

For this affair, I wore my own black dress with black patterned tights and black heeled ankle boots.  I attached a faux fur collar that I borrowed from an old sweater, a purple bob-cut wig, layered eye make-up, red lipstick, and a fancy mask I found at World Market.  I loved the butterfly accent and those feathers!  My look was inspired by The Great Gatsby movie.

The wig was my favorite part.  

Thankfully, when sweat dripped down my face half an hour in and my mask smooshed my cheeks, causing me to take it off after an hour, the wig went the distance.  Oh, and the kids dressed up!  The boys wore suits and tuxedos, the girls wore prom dresses.  

It was glamorous and sparkly.

Two funny moments for me were greeting my husband's Bible Study group (made up of older singles) while in full costume, and then leaving the driveway as two new people showed up.  Forgetting I didn't look like myself, I waved to them and smiled.  Funny how they weren't sure of me.  Our neighbor, Josh, was outside doing yardwork in that same moment and was also confused when he saw me.  He wasn't actually sure it was me or sure of what I was exactly either, so when I explained it to him last night, we laughed at the oddity of things.  I suppose in a glance, I looked like a flash of gold and purple with something sticking out of my head (driving a car?).  

I'd be confused, too.

None of us kept our identities a secret.  Even the young man dressed as The Phantom and the other who wore a George Bush mask (?!) made themselves known.  We were all so excited to see each other fancied up, and to dance the night away!  

Well, we were done by 9pm (school night), but you get the idea.  

P.S.  The Cupid Shuffle is my new jam.

Monday, May 27, 2013

memorial day

There are a few sounds I don't mind being woken up by:

1.) the coffee grinder
2.) giggling children
3.) a marching band

Today it was number three, as our town hosted its annual Memorial Day parade at the townsquare.  Something I've always enjoyed about living in Medina is how community-driven it is when the holidays arrive.  We may not see our neighbors much outside of these occasions (run-ins at the grocery store are common, as are the drive-by wave, the smell of barbecue grills in the summertime, and Irl sitting in his driveway - watching the neighborhood from his lawn chair), but the encounters are always sweet.

The big project for our weekend was painting the exterior of our house.  On Saturday we had four friends, plus my husband, outside on ladders; yesterday, Dan put in a few more hours; and today, he and my hubby are finishing the job.  I ran errands (more paint, food, new door shopping for our sun room), and made sure everyone was fed and hydrated.  Amanda joined the men this morning by mowing our lawn.  The sky is threatening to rain, so the finish may be cut short.

Red skin tater salad with homemade spicy garlic pickles from our friend Ali, poppyseed dressing, and chives from our garden.  

But man, we have the best friends.

They must love us a whole lot to do all of that work for us.  

Did I tell you?  Our baby robins flew the coop!  Saturday was the day they left the nest.  I walked around our property looking for the babies, and was able to spot two of them trying out their wings.  The past month of watching them grow from egg to flight, has been a dream come true for me.  I feel like a proud mama.

First one to leave the nest.  He drew the short stick.

Brave little guy.

Fully grown now, but you can still see a little fuzz on their heads.  
Good job, kids!

Empty nest syndrome.

Thank you to all of the men and women who serve and make sacrifices for our freedom (present and past tense).  I am grateful every day to live in a country where I can sleep soundly at night.

Waking up to anything other than bombs and gunfire is alright by me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

heating up

Our Ohio sun is heating up this week!  

With temperatures in the 80s, we've pulled out the barbecue grill, I've made my first batch of summer sangria, and I've found more reasons to hang out in our basement where it's cool.  

Today, I made a couple dozen no bake chocolate macaroons for our Bible Study group, and have plans to make my dinner cooking quick tonight.  Thankfully, we have A/C in the house, but there are days when it's crazy humid and hot well in to the evening, which makes sweating on the inside inevitable.

Flank steak marinated in tequila, garlic and orange juice.  Cooked medium rare by my favorite Argentine.  We turned the meat and grilled pineapples in to tacos with cilantro and all the fixin's.  Fruit salad and hubby's cheese & beer refried beans on the side.

My husband reminded me yesterday of the lingering winter we had, and how wonderful that was for us and not for the sun-lovers, so I will do my best not to complain.  Plus, Oklahoma is suffering through a terrible tornado season right now.

Lord, please bring comfort and rescue.

The best news is that my great-niece, Aubree Marae Chidester, was born at 1:15am (PST).  8lbs 1oz, 20.5".  She is perfect with her chubby cheeks and head full of hair!  That means my niece is a Mom, my little brother is a Grandpa, and I'm a Great-Aunt (!).  Also, the baby robins in our gazebo have opened their eyes, their feathers are growing in, and they make the cutest little chirping sounds.

I have so many blessings to count today!  

And lemonade to stock up on.

Friday, May 17, 2013

birdie birthday

The baby robins hatched in our gazebo!  

Four little featherless nuggets, not yet able to open their eyes.  They are the cutest things!  I got up on a chair to photograph them and the mom and dad robin appeared out of nowhere chirping loudly and flying frantically around me.  

I calmly (heart racing) made my exit before they could peck my eyes out (if this were a movie, they would totally do that).

Welcome to the world, baby birds.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

shake me to wake me

Hello, breakfast shake.
Almond milk, peanut butter, banana, two large medjool dates, vanilla, ice.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


This is the kind of day you start with chocolate cake and end with someone holding you.  That's my plan anyway.

My hubby's plane arrives this afternoon and I can't wait to see him! We've touched base here and there, sending quick pics and exchanging "I love you's."  And while I like having time to myself every now and then, today is a "then" situation.  I'm ready for my man to come home.

Did you have a nice Mother's Day, moms?  

I hope someone bought you flowers.

I thought a lot about my own mom on Sunday and how much I love her and am thankful God gave her to me.  She and I shared words of endearment, and I laughed at the thought of my husband seeing her on that day without me.  I know there was hugging and that makes me happy.  This is actually the second year I've received Mother's Day notes and gifts from loved ones.

2012.  Organic dark chocolate bars, peanut butter M&Ms and a Starbucks
gift card included (they know me well!).

2013.  My phone blew up with notifications.

That's not true, it's the third.  

My college boyfriend gave me a Mother's Day card once, in anticipation of us having children someday.  It was sweet, and strange.  I didn't earn that one, but these ones fill my heart right up to the brim knowing I've loved my youth kids well.

Sure, they keep me up at night with their questions, text messages, heartaches and risky behavior.  They challenge me with their "Does God really..?"  "Would God approve of..?" "What does God think about..?" "Is there anything in the Bible that says..?" kind of queries, pleas for relationship advice, prayer requests, and venting.  And then, there's keeping up with them online.  It's not always pretty.  I get on them about their language and bikini profile pics, and ask them in private about aggressive things they say, to which they often do nothing or block me from their profile.  They eventually take me back, but I know pouting.  That's mom stuff, right?

Their moments of gratitude, requests for dates with me, thoughtful notes, handmade presents, and squeals of delight when they see me, make all of that hard stuff melt away.  They have me by the heart, and I am honored to be part of the "village" that it takes to raise a child.  I may not have given birth to them, but I feel similar heart pangs for each young person who reaches out to me and allows me to reach back.  I'm protective and passionate for these kids, even if I don't always get it right.  Thank you girls for trusting me with you. Thank you parents for trusting me with your girls.  

I'm just grateful today.   

Monday, May 13, 2013

beauty queen

© photo credit: Shane Kelly

She looked like a beauty queen.  
In her arms, she held a large bouquet of pink ombre roses.  On her face, she wore a smile.  I know that smile.  I know that sweet glance.  I know those arms that reach for me every time I enter the room, and make for ineffective seatbelts while operating a moving vehicle.  They are the cutest little arms.
She is an angel on this earth, and the loveliest of lovelies.
My mom.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

maple fudge

Early Saturday morning, I took my husband to the airport.  

He's in Seattle for his grad school interview.  I have ants in my pants wondering how it will all go.

The reviews and interviews we've read and watched online make us even more excited for this opportunity.  These people speak our language and place high value on dialogue and community.  They desire to see their therapists become theologians and their theologians become therapists.  They foster honesty and an environment of learning that explores more than just the subject at hand.  Hubby is going to be like a kid in a candy shop tomorrow.

Plus, the school is located downtown, by Pike Place Market.  Such a perfect location for us!  We are eager to live in an urban setting and be close to all of our favorite restaurants again. 

So, while my babe is away, I'm catching up on things.  

Mostly sleep and girlfriend time.

Last night, I saw Baz Luhrmann's take on The Great Gatsby. Surprisingly (probably more to you, than me), I have never read the novel, but I just always knew I'd love the costumes and swanky language.  And I did.  This movie is a visual masterpiece! The first scene, where you meet the core characters in that breezy room with the curtains, muted tones, and playful laughter.. ohhhh.. it literally stopped my breath for a moment.  The story becomes uncomfortable and sad as it goes on, and the colors turn from gorgeous to grey, but it's a ride worth taking.  I saw it with my high-heeled lady friends, Rachel and Emily.  The three of us drank it in, then stayed up late verbally replaying what we saw, while eating our way through an Applebee's happy hour.

Today, Jessica and Amanda came over for our semi-annual viewing of the Project Runway finale.  Jess always brings homemade fudge (this time it was maple flavored), Amanda made lemonade from scratch, and I fired up the panini grill.  We watched anxiously as the remaining designers sewed their way in to New York Fashion Week and Tim Gunn's favor.  My favorite designer (from Portland!) won, and the season ended nicely.

Tomorrow, I'll polish up my resume and start applying for jobs.  

For now, I'm thinking about my pillow and comfy bed.. and those critter noises that woke me up this morning.

Come home soon, love.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

good things

In the midst of things that make me anxious, there are things that are good.  Very good.

I had a conversation with a friend this morning about gratitude in the midst of desperation.  Let's face it, my needy self will always be needy (impatience, selfishness, injustice, insecurity, pride), I just pray my gratitude comes first and my needy self is quieted by my compassionate and grateful self.  I want my eyes and heart to be wide open to God's mercy and blessings that are new each day.  

Here are some of those good things:

Sunlight sparkling on a backyard pond.

Three girls rescued in Cleveland after missing for ten years!!

Food that turns out exactly how I saw it in my head.

Albacore tuna tossed with lemon and pickled jalapeno juice, a touch of mayo, sliced cherry tomatoes and lemon pepper on a bed of alfalfa sprouts and mixed greens.

GF toast topped with mango-peach salsa and avocado.  Fried egg sunny-side up. 

A robin's nest with four eggs and one protective mama (who has given me the stare-down more than once) in our gazebo.

Chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven.

Our favorite whole beans.  "Just because."

Windows open letting fresh air in.

Feasting with friends and a showing of the new Iron Man movie. Robert Downey Jr. is definitely a good thing.

Ladies, are you with me? 

Lamb curry, chicken tikka, and savory goat stew.

Michael Symon's B Spot.

Daily fruit/veggie juice made for me by my darling husband.

Being a bridesmaid in the wedding of two dear friends (hubby was the officiant) and praying with a youth girl who gave her life to Christ at our spring retreat.

Getting the news that two sweet friends are pregnant again, after both losing their first babies in utero.

A surprise latte from one of my clients.

The ten year wedding anniversary of friends we weren't sure would make it more than three.  And they are happy in love.

My dad's post on my mom's Facebook page (brought me to tears):

Cheryll Kelly, I love that God loves me through you.  Your smile, your kind touch, your happy positivity bring me great joy.  This smooch is for you!!

So good.

Friday, May 3, 2013

happy friday

Social media amazes me.  

I can post a photo of my frozen yogurt and sunglasses on Instagram and call it "Happy Friday!," then get a response from one of my youth girls telling me she and a friend are coming to see me.

And then they do.. on roller blades!

Granted, I didn't see the post until after they showed up, but the surprise was priceless.  First they posted on my IG, then they sent me Snapchat photos of me with the caption, "I see you."  I didn't get those either until after the fact, but they made me laugh when I did. I was standing with my husband at the time, and two visiting pastors from California.  We had taken them out to dinner, then to Lemonberry for dessert, followed by a walk through the townsquare. It was such a lovely evening, and even lovelier when Cailee and Julianne found us on the far side of the gazebo.

These girls are the cutest stalkers I know!  

Of course we took a "selfie" and of course it was posted on Instagram within seconds.  We talked for a few minutes, hugged, and said our goodbyes.  Then we texted each other, Snapchatted, and commented on our IG photos.

Keeping the world small, one creep at a time.