Thursday, March 31, 2011

blissfully full

-A delicious healthy dinner of tilapia, brown rice and broccoli. (Ahem, followed by light coffee ice cream and one teensy Geneva cookie.)

-Meeting via skype with my WCC Bible study buddies and enjoying the way we can go from deep discussion to hilarious humor in a matter of minutes. I have such fabulous friends.

-A full, busy, contenting I-know-I'll-sleep-like-a-rock-tonight day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

sip, share, serenade

-A perfect, fragrant cup of proper (read: from across the pond) tea.

-Going with my mom to hear Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love among many other books) speak. She was witty, down-to-earth, and just really likeable. As she talked about her relationship with writing that began very young as the only thing she ever wanted to do, as something she considered to be a holy calling, it really resonated with my own sense of calling.

-Working with the windows open so that cool, fresh air and birdsong wafts around me. I think I'll leave Pandora radio off today; nature has its own chorus going on.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

pandora, perseverance and phone call

-Listening to my Iron & Wine Pandora radio station while I typed up a little WCC Bible study report and hearing such a wonderful song that I had to stop and just listen to it. Do you know about Pandora radio? It's fantastic: it's a free online "radio" where you get an account, enter in the name of a musician or song you like and it will play you music sounding like that song/musician. You can have several stations in your account (I have 39 different stations...everything from Counting Crows to Yo-Yo Ma!). The really good thing is that a lot of non-mainstream musicians are on Pandora, so you can hear all sorts of great folks you've never heard of before. It's how I discovered Rosie Thomas, Caroline Herring and Eliot Morris. Here's my inspiring song from today: "Opportunity" by Pete Murray.

-A successful little run despite a bit of a break from it and the Pox of Pollen Plague in my backyard.

-A humorous, encouraging chat with a pastor friend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

recipe for a great weekend

-Receiving a package from my old housemate Katrina containing the last things that I didn't have room to pack in my suitcases home from Belfast. I'm most excited about my Irish Farmer's Market Cookbook (and my wellington boots with colorful candy all over them).

-The hospitality found in being given a perfect, aromatic cup of coffee (and several more).

-Making some wonderful new friends where conversation was easy, similarities were shared and differences were valued.

-Running my hand over a Tiffany stained glass window that was not only beautiful, but textured, as glass folded and curved to mimic fabric.

-Leading worship and finding that the Spirit not only brought me calm and energy in it, but also joy and deep gladness.

-Watching a flaming orange sun peek through clouds, bringing with it a sense of hope.

-Hearing that my sister's doctor appointment went wonderfully and that little Hercumer or Twanda (we like to suggest outlandish names in our family) is doing just great.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

friends old and new

-Waiting to meet a friend for lunch and enjoying a quiet moment on a lovely bench with a warm breeze wafting around me.

-My friend Rachel's hilarious 10-month old, who captivated the attention of everyone in the cafe, with many people stopping to say how cute he was. There's nothing like a baby to get random strangers talking to each other.

-My friend Jessi saying that she made my roasted red pepper pasta sauce and felt like a "culinary genius."

Monday, March 21, 2011

a plate of pepper pasta perfection

Today my glimpse of grace is food related (shocking, I know). I have a bit of a roasted red pepper obsession, and tonight I roasted one with a jalapeno. I thought I'd take you through my lil' process, just because I felt like it. So here we go:

1. Stick that awesome red goodness in the oven (& a jalapeno if you're feeling Texan) on broil for about 15 minutes, turning every few minutes so it chars evenly. I used a massive red pepper, but if yours is small, go for two. And really, this is fun, intentionally burn it. But a word of warning: if you're fond of your eyebrows and eyelashes, when you open that smokin' hot oven door take a step back and let some of that heat escape before you try to turn that pepper. (Don't worry, I still have my eyelashes and eyebrows.)

2. Once your bell pepper and jalapeno's done roasting, stick em in a bowl with a little plastic wrap tightly on top and just let them hang out until they cool off a little. This is a good point in the cooking process for the chef to enjoy a wee glass of wine. :)

3. Once they're cool enough to handle, peel the charred skin off (it will be easy) but leave a bit on for some smoky flavor. Take the seeds/stems off like you normally would and chop roughly.

4. Throw those awesome peppers into a food processor/blender with a good dose of olive oil, s & p, herbs (I used parsley) and one grated clove of garlic. Puree that until it's smooth, golden and silky (aka a rockstar pasta sauce).

5. Cook your pasta really al dente (firm) and then let it cook together with that sauce for a couple more minutes. Top with more herbs, say a little thanks to God for inventing red peppers and enjoy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

a Grace-full weekend

What a fabulous weekend it's been. Friday night, I volunteered at Theatre Victoria to help at will call for a country concert (an amazing artist named Trey Hensley from Nashville who's only 20 and played at the Grand Ole' Opry at 11!). My great friend Ashley came along and after I was done working we enjoyed the show. It was hilarious when he kept referencing songs he wrote when he was 12, and Ashley and I who grew up together, kept saying "Do you remember what we were like at 12?!" Trey was very talented and played guitar better than I've heard in a long time. I especially loved his Johnny Cash medley. :) After the gig, Ashley and I did our usual thing: went to Denny's. We've been meeting at Denny's whenever I found myself in town for the past 8 years or so. It was a delicious close to a really fun night.

Then, I got up early Saturday morning and hit the road to College Station, where my friends Karen and Rob are visiting Karen's sister Kristin and her fiance Will. I haven't seen Karen and Rob in nearly 2 years, but it really doesn't feel like that long. We're pretty good at keeping in touch. They now have an adorable baby girl Gracie, and I had the best time getting to know her.

We went to the George Bush (Sr.) Presidential Library where Will works and had a lot of fun looking around. I think Gracie looks very comfortable behind that desk!

We also went to a little nature area/garden that A&M has and enjoyed walking among the flowers and soaking up some Texas sunshine. (Here are Colleen and Kristin at a children's station in the garden. I love those matching curls.)

Karen, Rob and Grace.

Karen and Gracie enjoying some Texas bluebonnets (maroon ones for A&M and traditional blue ones).

Gracie is just gorgeous.

(And really happy!)

We also enjoyed a little bluebell ice cream with strawberries.

So refreshing and sweet. I told Kristin that my Grandparents had these bowls and she said that she got them from her Grandparents.

Having a little cuddle with a sleeping Gracie.

The cutest dog ever. Kristin, Will and Colleen got this little puppy just about a week ago.

It was so wonderful to hang out with some of my best friends this weekend. It's such a gift to be with folks who know me so well and whom I know so well. In fact, our conversation ranged from garden gnomes (there was one in the garden, and it's a bit of a joke in our group of friends) to predestination (Rob's going to teach on it soon to his congregation and was looking for ideas) and lots in between. I just feel at home when I get to spend time with the Jacksons.

And it was a gorgeous drive home. I drove with gratitude for the many wonderful friends in my life, for clear blue skies and for the joy of babies. It was a perfect weekend.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Gruene St. Paddy's Day

For St. Patrick's Day, I went with my parents to the charming little town of Gruene (pronounced "green") for a little antiquing, wine tasting and just recharging. Gruene has such personality, and is so much fun to wander through.

This little guy was just hanging out in his favorite crepe myrtle, and might have been a bit annoyed that I was staring at him.

I really liked the look of this mirror on the red wooden building, but thought the picture would look more interesting if my dad and I appeared in it.

I also snapped a picture with my mom in an antique store.

(you know I have to get a picture of chipping paint on pretty.)

I think, if possible, my mom would have hopped on that bike and pedaled it away to take it and the flowers growing in it.

The best. place. to. eat. ever.


We later visited a lovely and friendly little wine tasting room. I really love wine, and was able to try 3 delicious varieties: a cabernet sauvignon, a pinot noir and a peachy white wine (all Texas wines, of course). And it was free! The pinot was so delicious that we bought a bottle.

In one of the fabulous antique shops I discovered this crate that has my mom's maiden name on it. She loved it and it came home with us.

It was a perfect Gruene St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

if it's good enough for Nelson, it's good enough for me

-Discovering a Marianne Williamson book used at a bookstore, aptly titled "Everyday Grace." I know of her because a paragraph from one of her books (
A Return to Love) was quoted by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural address in 1994. It's one of my favorite quotes:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

-Spending the afternoon sermonating on Exodus 17 while also working on a Bible Study on Esther for tomorrow. It's been fun to jump back and forth between such different, rich texts.

-A really good morning jog. I'm proud of myself that I've kept up with my weekday jogs for over 2 weeks now. I feel more awake, have more energy and have no qualms at all about indulging in a little coffee ice cream in the afternoon!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

the next food network star

Apologies for not blogging daily, you lovely blog buddies, but I have plenty to share. My precious nieces came for the weekend so Ash & Clay could have a little time for rest and antiquing. Those two little girls are just wonderful, so sweet to each other and hilarious. (Really, I'm not biased at all!) My favorite thing that Natalie said while we were making some dee-li-cious playdough cookies was "Hey, what's going on here?" It was so funny. We decided that Nat had enough experience with playdough baking to move on to the real thing.

So...we made a giant chocolate chip cookie! We used the recipe that my Mom always used to make us a giant cookie for our birthdays growing up (I always preferred a big cookie over a cake).

Natalie loved baking.

(I feel that with this image, I should clarify something: I did not let precious niece put her finger into a moving blender, it was in fact off, it's just blurry because some of the dough's falling into the bowl.)

Natalie got slightly excited when she saw how big the cookie was.

She and I have the same reaction to chocolate.

It came out PERFECT.

The next morning, Natalie and my Dad made biscuits for breakfast.

She's a little pro!

The girls also loved their popcorn snack (notice a theme? Yep, it's all about the food.)


We had so much fun. Nat's quite the little foodie and Gigi just clung to me like an adorable little monkey the whole time. It was great to see Ash and Clay too and they found some wonderful props for Ash's photography. A great weekend.