Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's fall!

I'm a bit of a sucker for the simple joys of fall. This is my favorite time of year because I love the colors, the leaves, and that distinctive crispness in the air. Matt of course thinks it's rather silly that I am all oogly-eyed over this pretty fall centerpiece. Even so, he did agree it looks really nice:)

I went to United today and they have all kinds of neat pumpkins and gourds: all kinds of colors, textures, patterns. They are gorgeous and oh-so-fun!

I also stopped by Pier 1 and got these napkin rings. There are four different leaf designs; one of each. I hate to be wrapped up in material things, but these things make me think of how beautiful Michigan is right now. I miss it so much, so it is worth it for a glimpse like this.

Even though we're at our apartment, I couldn't resist decorating the front door! It makes it feel even cozier here.

I made this door hanging last year with supplies from Hobby Lobby. It was a cinch and and much cheaper than all those pre-made things. You can often find pieces to make things like this for 50% off, too.

Happy fall everyone!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Breakfast cookies

I found a recipe for these breakfast cookies from Organic Valley and they are soooo good and very good for you, too. The original recipe is at and it is called "Survival cookies with java drops" if you want that version. My extra yummy, extra healthy version is below. By the way, Organic Valley has a lot of recipes on their site, especially ones that look really good for fall if you are interested. Let me know if anyone has some good autumn-ish recipes to share! I lost track of a great pumpkin cheesecake recipe a few years ago. Any ideas for a good one?

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter (at room temperature)
1 large egg
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. oatmeal (plain)
2 tbsp. ground flax seed
2 tbsp. wheat germ
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Large dash cinnamon
Small dash nutmeg
1/3 c. dark chocolate covered coffee beans
1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4-1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
1/8-1/4 c. sliced almonds

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease one large baking sheet.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

With an electric mixer, on medium-high speed, beat together the room temperature butter, sugar, and honey in a large bowl until pale and fluffy (3 minutes or so). Add egg, beating with mixer until creamy (about 1 minute). Beat in vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just blended. Add the dark chocolate covered coffee beans (often called java drops), chocolate chips, dried cranberries and apricots, and almonds. Mix well by hand using a strong metal spoon, as the dough is quite thick.

Scoop a large spoonful of batter for each cookie, arranging mounds three inches apart on baking sheet. Flatten mounds into rounds using moistened palm of your hand. Makes about 8 large cookies.

Bake until golden yet gooey (about 10-13 minutes). Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Cool cookies and store in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days.

Nutrition Information: (for original recipe only)
162 calories, 2g fat (10.6% calories from fat), 4g protein, 34 g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 25mg cholesterol, 196mg sodium.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Live strong challenge

We recently learned that the Live Strong Challenge will be in Austin, Texas October 25-26. This is a two-day running and biking event that raises funds for cancer research, support, and outreach through the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Sure, part of this race and the funds raised are about curing cancer. That goal is very intangible though and may be a long, long way off.

The most important thing here is to spread hope and empower people living with cancer.

After all, how do you battle an evil like cancer unless you inspire the people to be warriors?

We run for Dad and we run for Andrea. We also run for all of our family and friends who have encountered cancer in some way.

The run at the Challenge is a 5k. The riding distances are 10, 45, 65, and 90 miles. We have registered for the run, and if we are able to ride, too, we will sign up for that (uh, probably the 10 mile because there isn't anything in the 20 mile range and 45 would be a whole lot on a mountain bike!). The distances may be short, but we are excited and will train because this is about more than running and riding. In order to ride, however, each rider must raise $250. If you are interested in supporting this fight (regardless of whether we are able to ride, thereby assuring our need to raise $250 each), you can offer prayers by posting to our blog or donate financially at the following site:

Our team name is Loose Intensity, a term coined by one of Matt's former baseball coaches. This phrase means be strong, be tough, be fully present in what you're doing. Also, relax, have fun, and be you. This attitude is one that we strive to embody, and it's also one that I saw in my Dad everyday that he battled cancer. Make no mistake, Dad won the fight, and others will, too.

For more information about the event, go to:

One more thing, for a great read and inspirational story, try Lance Armstrong's book It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. We both read this a couple of years ago and it is a powerful story.

Thanks so much! We love you all!!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mom and Lisa's visit

We are so excited that Mom and Lisa came to visit! They came the afternoon of August 13 and left the morning of August 18. We had a great time catching up, eating good food, and laughing.

On Thursday of the visit, we went for a long walk along the river. The path along the river is about a half mile from our apartment. It leads to the Falls, which is the main tourist attraction in Wichita Falls. This waterfall is man-made, but you can find the location of the original falls on the path as well. It appears that the original falls were not much more than a trickle down a short hillside. I'm sure this was heaven in the eyes of the people who settled here though, as they had been on a long journey. After we came home and got ready, we went to Gidget's Sandwich Shack for lunch. This local cafe is directly across the street from us and they serve sandwiches, soups, homemade potato chips and more. Later that day Matt gave us a tour of the ENJJPT building and life support. We were even able to go out on the ramp so Mom and Lisa could see the T-37 up close.

On Friday, we went shopping in Dallas. We went to a huge, three-story mall that had all kinds of fancy stores. We actually found a lot of great deals, and the bonus is it was all tax-free. Texas has higher sales tax than some states to offset not having state income tax. As a result, they offer a weekend before the school year begins, when clothing -and other essentials- is tax-free!

On Saturday, we went to the lake. We enjoyed the sun and water skiied. We had anticipated this to be the hottest possible time for Mom and Lisa to come to Texas. It had been in the 110s! Ironically though, their visit brought the first "cool" weather we had seen in a long time. Most of their trip was 70s and 80s.

On Sunday, we went to church, got breakfast from our favorite donut shop, and chilled out.

Thanks for coming! We had a great time and we love you very, very much!!!

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