February 28, 2012


You know those scenes in every romatic comedy where the girl is holding her perfect cup of coffee with her perfect hair and is walking briskly down the streets of NYC on her way to work? Think Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail on her way to the Shop Around the Corner. This song is playing (the video is creepy...I know...eighties videos are all creepy). Well on some days, especially Mondays, I like to imagine my mile long walk from my car to my cubicle just as magical as Meg's, and I throw my hair back and hold my coffee with poise. Needless to say, nine times out of ten I might be running instead of walking, because I might be running late and there is not time for the Cranberries to serenade me. I digress. My sister says this is my look and it is really growing on me. Who says tennis shoes and suit skirts were not meant to go together? If your job requires bouts of sprinting and numerous meetings, what's not to love about the outfit?

But yesterday I noticed SO much on my mile walk. Instead of noticing the cigarette buds and trash, I saw a bird's nest in a crepe myrtle tree. It showed me hope for spring.

I saw a lady proudly carrying a totally homemade cake (you can tell when it is homemade) with the biggest smile. She showed me to be thankful for friends.
I saw someone around my mom's age rocking a fashionable gray felt hat with feathers. She showed me to embrace your own style.

I saw two students laughing and talking at the crosswalk. They showed me love for life early in the morning.

Not everything I saw yesterday was happy and carefree. I saw a man that looked homeless, dirty, and angry. My heart hurt, and I did not know what to do. I was driving, and he was walking slowly. I wanted to tell him "Jesus loves you." It is true. I prayed he would know yesterday. And I pray he would know today. He is a child of God.

I saw a man with anguish on his face walking out for some fresh air at a hospital. And I thought of his family that I did not know. I wanted to say, "It will all be okay." Instead a prayed that he would find hope. Is hope better than okay? I don't know, but I know Him who is acquainted with all my ways. That he can turn mourning into dancing.

I am thankful for yesterday's moments. I made pasta for supper. And I am thankful for another day that God has made--one running shoe and suit skirt step at a time.

Pasta with Gorgonzola Sauce (Adapted from Cookie & Kate....her Banana Bread recipe is lovely)
Serves 2

1 cup dried gemelli pasta
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons milk
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups chopped fresh greens (collards or spinach)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Boil the pasta about 8 minutes in salted water. Drain and reserve a little (2 tablespoons?) of the pasta water in the pot (helps the sauce to cling to the noodles). Gently boil the greens for about 4 minutes in another pot until tender. Drain and rinse in cool water; saute in olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add all ingredients to pasta with reserved pasta water and warm until melty. Serve with good conversation about the day.

February 20, 2012

Lessons learned

Rainy days are great for making realizations that you might not ever make on sunny days. For example, if it rains all day long on Saturday, cleaning the house like a maniac while your fourteen year-old Jack Russell becomes angry with the vacuum is funny. Watching Money Ball with Brad Pitt does not suffice when you really wanted to watch Father of the Bride.

Norman Rockwell - Game Called Because of Rain
 Baking cinnamon sugar biscotti is always a good idea even though you have about 674 biscotti recipes scattered across the house. Drinking excessive amounts of green tea makes you feel healthy and also gives you energy to dust the top of the shelves that have not been dusted since before the Backstreet Boys were cool. Not to say that the Backstreet Boys are not cool now...this is forever cool. Don't disagree on this one. Meanwhile, listening to Joe Purdy sing about "loving the rain the most when it stops" might or might not make you cry depending on how hormonal you are feeling on this aformentioned rainy day. If you are feeling hormonal, take a bubble bath and blare the Backstreet Boys song.

Van Gogh - Wheat Field in Rain
 Continuing on, rainy days give you time to think about things that you are too busy for on sunny days. Like being really grateful for new friendships in your life that God has surprised you with. Some friendships come out of the blue and have you smiling all the time without even knowing you are doing it. Isn't God full of those little surprises? And then rainy days allow time to think about those friendships that he is rekindling or making stronger. Rainy days don't come often enough. If it weren't for rainy days, I would never have any clean clothes much less have them ironed.

Gustave Caillebotte - Rainy Day

Without rainy days, I would never make a dent in my growing reading list. When I was in college, I had a strict one book at a time policy. Unfortunately, this did not include textbooks, but it was for the "fun" books that I would roam the library for. Wouldn't libraries be amazing if no one had to study? Epic realization. I remember reading The Sound and The Fury for the first time. If I had not been wholly devoted to finishing it, I would still be on page 6. That strict policy went out the window about a year ago. Now I am on page 6 of several books and only on the rainy days do I make it to page 8 of them all. Abi, I am almost done with the third book in the Narnia series!

So on this beautiful sunny day that I am exceedingly grateful for, I am also grateful for the rainy day that I just had. Langston Hughes once said, "Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby."

February 14, 2012

Valentine's and black hearts

It's the little things, isn't it!?  On the dark side of this coin is the train ride that I thought was local and was express, thus making the price 3 x's more expensive. :(  BLAAAAA
But then that side of the coin can be put face DOWN! :) The bright side... this is the faces of the 2nd graders when I tell them "Color the little heart .... BLACK!", and it's Valentine's day.  It's like it's sacrilege or something.  But ohh how we laughed and enjoyed the moment together.  Or, the expressions on the guys faces when they found out that in America GUYS give chocolates and gifts too.  Or,  when everyone loves the chocolate cake.  Or, when you see the cutest little girls holding Madeline bags.  I just have to remember to lookout for those little things. Things like reading Sara's blog, or a good recipe idea from her.  ;)  So here's to the little black hearts on Valentines day.

February 7, 2012

Wanting to make this, Abi

This looks so good and reminds me of the chai that you were making in Ohio!

I picked up this book and want to read it right now!

Swimming is the best workout (in my opinion), and I am in the process of becoming a certified instructor and can't wait to get all the details! My 2012 New Year's Resolution is to be able to swim fly without dying...it is slowly progressing :)

Found a cool website via Heidi's blog today and am in love with the concept.

Bought a friend an awesome coffee tumbler and can't wait to see her smile on Thursday. Oh, and I have been commissioned to bake a carrot cake! If you are a carrot cake hater, we can still be friends.

Looking at my Claddagh ring on my right hand and wanting to go back to Ireland right now. If only Toyota Camry's had wings.

February 5, 2012

Every moment a blessing

My wonderful friend Anna recommended a book to me called 1000 Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I can't get enough of this book and am already planning on re-reading it once I am done! Please check it out for yourself. It has made me think on my life and many blessings in a whole new way. It has made me think on the hard things in life that "I do not deserve" but that perhaps God is using to refine me; only through this "refining" process will I become more like Christ.
In today's culture, everyone seems to think that we "deserve" these blessings. Day to day I go about life not even noticing tremendous gifts that God has given me, because I am "too busy" or "too tired" and they are really just part of being a human being in 2012, right? But Ann's book is daily prompting me to take a closer look at those "everyday gifts." Maybe I am not short on time but very short on thankfulness. Maybe I am not in need of more but in need of noticing what I have.
Right at this moment as I think about the gifts in my life, I see so many wonderful blessings that God has freely given me. I see a sweet dog in my lap and a warm cup of tea. I see a Bible that I can pick up and read anytime without the fear of persecution or abuse. I have the ability to READ the Bible and healthy eyes to see the daffodils out my window. I have abundant food and clean water. I have family and friends to share it with both old friends and new friends. Thinking and reflecting on all of this makes me ask the same question that David asked in Psalm 24: "Who is this King of glory?" The Psalmist repeats the question twice, and I repeat the verse in my head. Who is this who loves me so much that he created me in His image, died on the cross for my sins, and graciously gives me all things in love?
A good job. A long conversation. A pillow. A bubble bath. A sunrise. A cup of coffee. A smile from a stranger. A phone call. A coat of nail polish. A swim. A long walk. A prayer. A good dream. A similarity with someone. A hope for tomorrow.
I don't deserve any of these things and overlook them all. Who is this King of glory that pours them out on me daily? A new madeleine pan. A sister. A simple guitar. A favorite book. A pile of clean towels. I could go on for days...
And who am I to say that things God allows to happen to me are good or bad? Only He can see the whole picture. Only He can say "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." When we say that we pick up our cross and follow Him, we do not say that we will follow Him only down certain paths. We don't get to pick and choose which roads we follow Him down; we just trust that He goes before us just as He went before the people of Israel in Joshua 3. We don't have to know the way. We just need to know Him who does.