Wednesday, December 08, 2010

So much to share, so little time

I have been wanting to write more lately to share our adventures with you, but the time keeps slipping away. And I probably won't be here much anytime soon as I will be spending as much of the next 11 days as possible with one of our favorite families -the Killians- as they are moving to Shreveport, LA and we are going to be lost without them. I probably won't be back on here until after they move. It's so sad to have a good friend move away, but I will save the story for later.

For now, I couldn't help but sneak on here to share with you a funny moment from last night. My husband Matt is becoming quite "choosy" as he grows older, as I suppose all men do. I think it is just striking me lately with the way he cares about little things that sometimes even I don't care about.

Matt likes drinks. Now, I don't mean he likes alcoholic drinks, even though he does. What I'm talking about is the fact that he'd rather drink anything else than water.

The man also eats! He was not a fan of this particular meal...

He's always asking for this tea, that juice, or this pop from the grocery store. I, on the other hand, drink water 99% of the time so I usually don't even notice when we are low on said drinks.

Yesterday while I was out I went to CVS to get the certain tea, and then over to United to get other groceries. We were having company and I do like to make my hubby happy, so the contents of my cart included cream soda, beer, chocolate milk, and wine in addition to the favorite tea from the previous store. Hours later, after dinner, we are relaxing on the couch and I mention something to Matt (who has already had a tea, a beer, and now is on to a cream soda) about the drink selection in the frig. Wide-eyed and excited he says something like, "Yeah, I know! I opened the frig and there was so much to choose from I didn't know what to do!" Me: "So you decided you'd have one of everything?" Him: "Yeah, pretty much." And then the biggest grin.

Matt's best day ever.

He also added that the assortment of miniature candy bars for dessert was also "just right". Oh, it's the little things:)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I met my goal!

I did it! I met my goal of losing 15 pounds!! I can officially check off numbers 7, 11, 14, and 21 from my "30 Before 30" list.

Before and after, June and November, 2010 are pictured above. Just like in the commercials, I'm also tan in the "after" picture! Haha, that was not planned! The first one just happened to be not only before losing the weight, but also before spending several months outside running and three weeks at the cottage water skiing.

15.4 pounds, 3.6% body fat, and 22.5 inches is the total change (plus, back to my just-started-college-have-not-yet-discovered-the-never-empty-table-of-cookies-yet size!!). I feel like a new person! It's really strange, but really good. And all I really want to say in posting this is (1) I'm really happy and proud, and (2) you can totally do this, too, if it's something you need/want!!

I don't want to sound like some kind of advertisement, but I never knew how much 15 pounds would change me (both by gaining in the first place and by losing after the fact). It's still hard to believe this has even happened. I felt chubby from ages 13-26, half of my life. For most of that time I wasn't really that chubby, I was just a teenager thinking I needed to look like a model. Then between the end of college and my first few years being married and holding a real job, I gained 15 pounds. I didn't like it, but I just worked on making it the new normal. It wasn't normal though; it was uncomfortable.

Quitting teaching in May offered me a lot of free time; time to be free of this weight. It wasn't easy and it took about two and a half months longer than I anticipated. I remember back in July crying to Matt about how much of a struggle this has been for me for a long time. I really, really didn't believe in myself in this way, and quitting teaching had really slashed my confidence across the board.

I brought it to God, and he literally said, "Brooke, you're going to have to actually try." I was surprised and realized he was exactly right. I had the mentality that I could just casually work out and eat better and just quickly become healthy. It wasn't that easy, for sure, but once I started trying, it wasn't as hard as I thought either. The main thing was persevering in believing I could do it.

I wanted this change to be lasting, so I didn't do anything crazy. I simply exercised more and ate less. I didn't even go to the gym. I worked out at home with the TRX, walked, ran, and biked. Also, the types of food I was eating were fine, it was just the portions that were outrageous! Oh, and thanks to my friend Beth, I logged all of that exercise and eating into I think I would have gone crazy without FitDay (which is FREE) because it calculates your foods, calories, exercises, nutrients and everything for you with all kinds of graphs and scales. It made it SO convenient (once you get the hang of entering food into the log online, it goes quickly and I found myself really looking forward to it).

Anyway, that's it. I just really wanted to share this with you! It's so very empowering and confidence-boosting. The biggest thing is that I feel like now that I know I can do this, I know I can really do "all things through Christ" (Phil. 4:13). I wonder what's next...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Korea and Dog's First Hike

I logged out of my email this morning to see this article on Yahoo News. Normally I would probably pass it up, but with all the recent discussion in our home about potentially moving to Korea (via USAF) I was intrigued enough to read it. I am pretty uneducated when it comes to history and international affairs/politics, but I have come a long way through The School of Matt's Personal Knowledge. To his credit, he really knows his stuff. He's always been interested in history (he nearly majored in it), he's very knowledgeable about it, and he makes it so someone like me can understand!

Anyways, "skirmishes" as the articles refers to them, seem fairly common between "the Koreas" (as Lisa and I have begun to refer to them), but this one got me thinking about our potential move there. Plenty has to happen (if you're in to acronyms, they are TX, IFF, and RTU) before this could occur, but there's only about a year standing between now and then. If Korea's in the Plan, I'm all for it.

As I mentioned before, I've been meaning to catch up on posting. A few weeks ago, we made it up to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, pictured above. It is just an hour or so north of us, and offers light hiking, decent views, and famous Meers cheeseburgers! The burgers are definitely the best part, and you feel better about eating the gigantic thing after walking around on the trails for a few hours.

We brought Charlie with us for his first hike. It was pretty hilarious to watch our fluffy while poodle jump, climb, and scramble up large rocks and in between cacti. He LOVED it, and was actually really good at it! His only probably was moving so fast that his lungs couldn't keep up!

I love this picture. Charlie looks huge compared to the earth below; like he's standing on top of the world.

Matt and I really enjoyed getting out of town and into much so that we went again a couple weeks later:)

Monday, November 15, 2010

A bit of this and that

Aahhhh. Deep breath. It is (finally) a delightful time to write to you. To me. To whomever (definitely me), if anyone, reads this blog.

The last few days have been marked by remarkable frustration. Nothing big - no need to worry. It was just one of those bouts of not-being-able-to-put-your-finger-on-it-ness that had me in a funk. It started with Veteran's Day (no offense to the Veterans; I'm very grateful for you). Matt had the day off, which made it feel like Saturday. Then Friday (he went back to work) felt like Monday, and Saturday felt like -well- Saturday, but then Sunday felt like Saturday, too (we thought the Killians were going to have their baby, and due to a series of events neither of us went to church, so a day off without church of course feels like Saturday). You would think three Saturdays would be awesome, but it was just rather strange for some reason; hence, the funk.

Wow, I am really ranting and pouring on the parentheses. You're so patient to read this. Anyway, today, after a delicious night's sleep, the funk is gone! I prayed and prayed and tried to see the positive. I tried with all my heart to put my "delight in the Lord," and he delivered "the desires of my heart" (peace and lack-of-funk) for sure (Psalm 37:4). And so it is no coincidence that I would be delighted to write to you now.

It is quite lovely as I sit here and write to you with a hot cup of one of my favorite brews. This tea is actually a kids' tea, the package covered in giraffe spots, but it is sooo good. My throat was a bit scratchy, so I thought this "throat coat" might do the trick. Also, it is made even better by the 60 degree air that is filled with a healthy dose of midwestern style cloudiness above. Maybe it will make you laugh, as it does me, to know that whenever it is overcast here, it reminds me of home! Heck, I'm even wearing a sweater!

My posting has been so sparse in the last few months. I have no idea why except that I seem to make every other thing a priority. Well, there's a bit of a new game plan and it includes a bit more time for posting. This is good because, I like being able to share with you about what's going on in our lives.

There are lots of little things lately, many including this new dog of ours. Here he is, a bit cautious looking, after our first at-home haircut. I took him to PetSmart the next day to have them trim it up and do his face. It looks much better now! In fact, it's grown out a whole month's worth, which tells you just how long it's been since I've posted.

Coming this week to blogland: dog's first hike, adventures in babysitting, and a few good recipes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For such a time as this

I want to share with you an excerpt from my journal writing this morning. Keep in mind my current context of studying Esther (and her confrontation with her own destiny) with my group of women and Beth Moore's Bible study book.

"I was thinking about Mrs. Head. She left such a rich legacy. Some of it was with her work with children at the Child Development Center, but so much of it had to do with her character, her home, the way she lived her roles as wife and mother. She and Colonel Head did a lot during her life: raising a family (even while abroad), sponsoring many cadets and their families, writing a book, traveling, living for You.

They had so much in so many ways. In one way, they had a lot of things, but it was always so clear that those things were about what could be done with them -even if it was 'just' be beautiful or tell a story. And they didn't just tell any story. They told their story.

Now, I know I'm not Mrs. Head, and my story isn't going to look the same, but I'm pretty sure there's something -a destiny- equally important to fulfill. I guess the point -at least in Mrs. Head's case- is that destiny took a lifetime of 'little' things to fulfill it, but also, we don't know how long that lifetime will be. We must use the present for the Lord. We are brought into each day 'for such a time as this' -for such a time as today."

Mrs. Head was Matt's "sponsor-Mom" at the Air Force Academy. She passed away suddenly in December of 2007, but not without first touching many, many hearts and lives.

Esther was a secretly-Jewish woman made Queen of Persia in the time of Xerxes. During her reign, the whole Jewish people in Persia were sentenced to death because of one Jewish man's actions. In the face of fear and possible death, Esther chose to return to God in order to save her people because she was brought to "royal position for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14).

Friday, October 08, 2010

Recipe time

I think we can officially add two new favorite recipes to our "list". Both of the recipes below are ones I found at All Recipes.

Cilantro Lime Cod

I made a couple of modifications to the recipe, the most important one (I think) being using fresh onions instead of dried. I cooked them with the garlic and olive oil until the mixture carmelized. That really made it delicious! I also used lime juice instead of fresh lime and real butter instead of margarine.

The side dishes pictured here are sweet potato fries and black beans.

For the sweet potato fries, julienne one large sweet potato and put pieces on a metal baking sheet. Add brown sugar, olive oil, and garlic salt to taste; toss with the sweet potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Watch carefully at the end and stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

For the black beans, rinse and drain one can of black beans; put black beans into small pot over medium heat. Add diced tomato, onion, cilantro, minced garlic, and garlic salt to your liking. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens and gets bubbly. Then switch to very low heat while you wait for everything else to get done. Just before serving, sprinkle with shredded colby jack cheese.

The other recipe that has made it to our list is Mediterranean Lemon Chicken. I was inspired to try this recipe by a friend's good taste and our mutual love of the local Hibiscus Cafe. It turned out delicious. As some of the reviews suggested, I doubled the sauce (be careful with the lemon may choose to multiply this amount by 1.5 instead of 2). It turned out deliciously!

I'm baking as we speak, so I'm sure there will be more recipes soon...this time for desserts!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Going, going, gone

I've been working on this weight loss thing for a while now, and it's going really well. Eleven pounds later, I didn't really think this was possible, but it really truly is!! If you'd like to read the story, head on over to The Skinny Bs.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The assignment

I can't even believe I've waited this long to make this post.

Matt got his assignment!!!

We've been waiting for this moment for three+ years. Back when Matt graduated pilot training, he really wanted to fly the A-10, but that's not what God had for him or us. We stayed here in Wichita Falls, both of us teaching our remarkably similar students. And while we've enjoyed this experience and learned A LOT, we've always kind of been waiting for this assignment! The FAIP thing is and was good, but it is and was something we could always wrap our minds around. But that next assignment felt like it would be the "real" thing, that unfathomable thing that was unknown that we longed for so desperately. Neither of us could wait! We've done a lot of preparation these last few years; "mission marriage" we called it so that we would be ready for whatever God had in store for us.

In early August, it came down the chain of command that Matt and his cohort-buddies were to submit their preferences or "dreamsheets". They ordered the planes, put in the form, crossed their fingers and prayed to God that he would hear their prayer loudest! Then we waited, and waited some more. Then we went to Michigan. And for three weeks we water-skiied our hearts out, all with this assignment in the backs of our minds. We wondered if it would come when we were away. We wondered if they would call or email or Pony Express.

I hope you enjoy the suspense, because then it actually came! The assignment phone call (for some reason they opted out of Pony Express). But we were out on the boat and had no idea. So a few hours later Matt learns that he has a message regarding his assignment. He calls back immediately! But his commander is out flying. We wait. For an hour or two. I ask Matt (knowing his answer) if he wants to go out for another pull skiing while we wait it out. "No!" he doesn't want to go anywhere. He has a childish grin and a hopeful heart. We drink a couple of beers.

One of the cohort-buddies (who is in his commander's office just finding out his own assignment) calls to ask if Matt's heard the news. Matt tells him no and they agree to quickly hang up so the phone line will be open. We wait.

He FINALLY gets the call and...he goes into the backyard to talk. I resist the urge to follow on his heels.

He comes back smiling; smiling big! He got it! He got the A-10, the one he's been wanting the whole time! Matt's going to be an A-10 Warthog pilot! I'm sooo proud of him!

Matt would probably be ashamed to see which pictures I picked out to show you which plane he'll be flying. He, of course, has been collecting cool A-10 pictures for months in anticipation of this event. Just kidding, but not really. Nonetheless, these may give you an idea of what to picture when you think of what Matt will be up to.

The A-10 is a two engine single-seat attack aircraft that carries a lot of bombs and has a really big 30 mm gun on the front (Reminds me of a funny time when Matt flew the Tweet to an airshow. A kid saw the pito tube sticking off the nose, and asked if that was the plane's gun. Matt just looked down ashamed that he didn't really have a gun on his plane. The pito tube, by the way, is a tiny little stick coming off the nose of the T-37 that senses information like weather or altitude, something like that.).

If you'd like to know more about the A-10 and this training Matt will be going to at Davis-Monthan, this link contains a story about the making of an A-10 pilot. The pilot in the story is actually one of Matt's former students.

And then we celebrated with nothing less than shots of Jeremiah Weed.

The End.

P.S. In more recent news, Matt just got news that we'll need to be in Tucson by early May. Here we come Arizona!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Catching up

As Beth puts it, I really could be one of those people who doesn't work but is busy all the time. She says this because, even though I'm not working, I still have trouble getting to my phone and returning calls. It's true. I feel very busy. Yes, some of it is frivolous (who really needs to go to Target two or three times in one week?). But some of it is also very legitimate as there are a lot of tasks (and priorities like spiritual and physical health) that went undone while Matt and I were both entertaining busy schedules. There are a lot of fun things we've been doing, too though; not just "tasks".

Over the past several weeks, we enjoyed a three week vacation to Michigan and now we've been back in the Falls for a month. Here's a taste our what and where.

We stayed at the Keilen cottage, which sits on little Birch Lake in Elk Rapids, Michigan. We had the pleasure of enjoying three relaxing weeks there. Originally I thought it would be strange (maybe even too cool) to spend August in Michigan. We couldn't have been more delighted by what we found: surprisingly little rain, sunny and 80 almost every day, with refreshing 60-degree nights. The weather was better than the last few summers we've visited.

And the weather made the trip. We water skiied 2-3 or even 4 times each day. We lazed on the boat, in the hammock, playing in the yard, walking on the bay. We read books, drank coffee, soaked up the sun. We talked, and story-told, and slept-in. We barbecued, and camp-fired, and floated along. The trip was perfect. It was restorative. It was blessed.

We also thoroughly enjoyed our visitors. Here, Lisa and I enjoyed a sunny, feet-dangling sit on the dock. Lisa was able to stay for two days and one night. It turned out to be the couple of windy days we had, but we had a fun time attempting to fly kites over the lake the first day. Charlie-dog especially loved it. He would chase them back and forth through the water. It was hilarious! The second day Lisa was there is when the weather calmed and brightened for this picture and a swim.

Matt's brother and his wife Kristen came up to visit as well. We enjoyed the delicious food of Pearl's New Orleans Kitchen, a long-standing family favorite. And with the help of Kristen and Cindy, I found my first petoskey stones in Grand Traverse Bay. It took some time, patience, and a lot of waves in the rear, but it was worth it:)

I mentioned we water skiied, just a bit. Truly, it was the highlight of the trip! Matt and I LOVE to water ski. It's so thrilling, so fun, so refreshing. When the water calms (particularly in the early morning and just before nightfall) it is as smooth as glass. The ski cuts through as Mark (above) put it, "like butter". It's amazing!! It was a fun treat was getting to teach my cousin Mark and his friend Luke how to ski. They did fantastically!
Oh, one more thing about skiing. I got up on ONE ski!! Well, kind of... First I spent a lot of time practicing dropping a ski and balancing on one. It was thrilling and exciting to learn this new skill! The first time I did it for any dignified length of time was breath-taking. In addition to being super-excited to actually be balancing on one leg like some kind of floating flamingo, I also had a dazzling orange and pink sunset to one side of me coupled with the brightness of the rising full moon on the other. What more could melt this outdoor girl's heart? So, once I was fairly confident dropping a ski, I decided to try to get up one one. It's a challenging process and really shows the meaning of "rip you a new one" but it was fun, too. I kind of wish I had started trying this sooner in the trip. I had about two days of trying this before we had to leave. I was able to get partially up and drag a ways while holding on, but I don't think I actually stood all the way up. It was all kind of blurred by the massive amounts of water spraying in my face! Regardless, I was pretty proud of myself for persevering. I had not done either of these things before this trip.

Many of my family were able to join us in northern Michigan for a long weekend. Somewhere in this picture are my Mom, her husband Alan, Grandma, Grandpa, Holly, Dave, Mark, Luke, and Scotty. This was Sunday morning after church before they were all getting ready to take down camp at their RV park. We enjoyed a pancake breakfast with them, complete with (of course) homemade maple syrup.

Marcy and Chris didn't get to make it to the camp-out, but luckily we were able to meet up with them in Gaylord for breakfast. They were on their way up to the U.P. to canoe and camp in the Le Cheneaux Islands (sounds divine!), so we were able to meet them on our way back down state as we ended our trip.

This post wouldn't be complete without telling you about our new dog Charlie. Here he is enjoying a nice, tasty stick at the cottage. It was great to have him there. He's such a natural outside dog; loves the water, the boat, the sticks, and running around and around the house. He has so much energy, which makes him a lot of fun. He's also a real sweetheart and loves to cuddle close. AT the moment he's snoozing at my side on the couch, fully reclined with his head hanging over the edge, utterly relaxed. The fleas we had trouble with in MI are officially gone, and he's really settling in to his life here with us. We still having a problem with him becoming very anxious while we're away, but hopefully that will diminish as time goes on.

To be continued...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Back to blogland

We are officially back and in the swing of things, which means I'm blogging again. I intended to do a post tonight, but spent too much time "decorating" the blog instead. I LOVE fall and have been eager to use a fall color scheme and background on the blog. I thought I was so content with my previous design, but then I remembered Fall! I just can't resist the oranges, reds, and absolute favorite time of year!

Well, stay tuned because soon I'll have vacation pics, assignment news, and two delicious new recipes. See you soon!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Great lake state

Our journey begins in a few short hours; several things left to check off the list before we split town. We are headed to home state for some much needed vacation, fun in the sun, and visit with family.

We will also picking up this little man, Charlie.

Charlie was my Mom's dog. She decided she was ready to be dog-free for a while and Matt and I are ready to be with-dog, so we offered to make our home his home. He has been staying with Matt's parents for the summer at their cottage (something I think will be imprinted on his little doggy brain forever as the most wonderful heaven-like experience of his life -water, trees, somewhat free-roam, squirrels- ...he'll probably be disappointed to move to our city apartment), and will travel back with us in a few weeks.

As I write before we leave this morning, I have a bit of a dilemma. I've just found out that I have a reader whom I don't know. I never intended that to happen. It's a little strange to have "readers" to begin with. And while it is kind of cool that someone who doesn't even know me is interested in reading about my life, I meant for this blog to be a way to keep up with friends and family. In fact, I purposely tried to make it something that would not be found on the internet. You "cannot" actually access it without knowing the exact web address. Now I realize that even with that "protection" the internet is the internet and everything is available somehow if you put it out there.

I mean no offense to those of you who may be reading this who don't know me personally, but it seems I have a decision to make. I will continue blogging because it is so much fun for me to write, basically journal, in this way. But I may have to be a bit less personal. So, if you don't know us, do you think maybe you could intentionally forget our names and identifying information? Haha, that sounds a bit silly. Just forget my husband's name and what his job is and what city we live in. Okay, that sounds good. Thanks! :)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Recipes: dinner #3

Matt and I found this recipe in Men's Health magazine. I call it "Muscle Salad" because it's protein-packed and muscle-building. It's also very easy and tasty.

Muscle Salad


1/4 pound marinated steak, grilled and sliced (use any marinade you prefer - we used one with lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, sugar...)
1 tablespoon bleu cheese
1/2-1 cup sugar snap peas (steamed for one minute, then sliced diagonally)
1 tablespoon bacon, crumbled
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
1 tablespoon dressing of your choice (green goddess dressing was recommended, we used ranch)


Assemble ingredients into small piles on plate. Enjoy tasting the different flavor combinations: egg with tomato, bacon with bleu cheese, etc.

This salad was also wonderful with deli-sliced turkey in place of steak, poppyseed dressing, and sliced strawberries.

Recipes: dinner #2

I'm trying to carry on with my promise to share these great recipes, and this is one that you really won't want to miss! It is from the June 2010 edition of Cooking Light.

Grilled Halibut with Peach and Pepper Salsa


2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled yellow peaches (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 1/3 cups chopped red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh arugula (we skipped this altogether...the package was about 10 times what we needed here, and we didn't have any other use for the rest of the arugula at the time)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 (6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray


1. To prepare salsa, combine first 9 ingredients; toss gently. Let stand 30 minutes before serving.

2. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

3. To prepare fish, combine 2 tablespoons juice, oil, paprika, and 2 garlic cloves in a large, shallow glass baking dish, stirring with a whisk. Add fish to juice mixture; turn to coat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

4. Remove fish from marinade; discard marinade. Sprinkle fish evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place fish on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. (We discovered a grill pan worked better than putting the fish directly on the grill.) Serve fish with salsa.

This was naturally sweet and spicy; a delicious combination! And it's perfect for summer's peach bounty! Enjoy! Oh, and one more thing: be sure to use Pacific Halibut for this recipe. It is amazing and fished in ways that are eco-friendly.

Ransomed heart daily readings: I can't get enough of them

How and why beauty is essential. If this doesn't lift your heart, nothing will.

Ransomed heart daily reading

Real humility (not self-idolatry disguised as humility, which does nothing to reveal God's glory).

Thursday, August 05, 2010


It's already August! It's pretty strange to hear about people I know preparing to go back to school. Every August for 21 years I was preparing to go back to school. And this August...I'm preparing to go on vacation! Now the vacation definitely sounds better than school, but it's a little strange to get used to. Once we get back, I'm probably going to see about volunteering in a school (most likely Notre Dame as it is affiliated with our church).

As for other happenings, we got new bedding! It's actually been on the bed for two months now, but we were gone for the first month of that. Matt loves it so much that he has an even harder time getting out of bed in the morning. We never actually got new bedding when we got married (we just used the stuff we already had), so this feels pretty plush.

P.S. Thanks to Lisa and Marcy for that down comforter. It is located snugly inside the duvet.

We also got a new desk a few weeks ago. We gave the old table-desk away to a friend, and now we have this new one with tons of storage...just what we needed. It's perfect (and actually the same desk we wanted to get when we got married, but couldn't afford)!

There's so much extra space in our bedroom (ahem, I mean office-section-of-the-bedroom) now because the new desk is close to half the width of the old table-desk.

I've been baking and cooking a lot. It has been so nice to be able to cook without being stressed out, and also to have time to make "from scratch" recipes - my favorite thing to do! These are Tracy Elgersma's awesome chocolate chip cookies. They turn out perfect every time! Not sure if I'm allowed to share the recipe...

This is a picture I took myself (uh, can you tell?) to show how happily suprised I was to learn I have lost over five pounds now! It feels so good, so natural. It's wonderful to be able to make fitness a priority now. And it's amazing what eating right and exercise can do!

Starting this week I'm making time for one of my favorite hobbies: jewelry making. It's been a long time since I've made something really good. Over the last couple years I've mostly made things that I "needed". I didn't have time to be very creative.
In the forefront is the Silpada jewelry catalog. Do you think it counts as plagiarism to copy jewelry designs? I sure hope not, because I'd love to take a cue from their work. They make amazing things, but I don't want to pay $100 plus everytime I want a new piece of jewelry!

I love the colors and textures of these beads.
If you ever want anything in particular, just let me know and I'll see what I can do. I can also repair jewelry if you have a favorite that is in need of that.

Now for a bike ride, sorry no way I can get a picture of myself doing that!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Skinny Bs

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but Beth and I started -well- a club. Sorry, first rule of our club is we're the only members. Well, maybe unless your name starts with "B"? Our "club" -maybe we should call it an organization, that sounds much more sophisticated (as opposed to the Cool Cats Club I once started with a friend in elementary school, to which we were also the two sole members...I didn't know I was so exclusive with clubs, haha!) is called The Skinny Bs. Woo, I love run-ons, do you?

So The Skinny Bs is all about getting these two Bs (Brooke and Beth) in better shape mentally, physically, you name it. We're using the blog to keep each other accountable, motivated, etc. Feel free to stop by any time and cheer us on! And if you're also working on a skinnier you, please share your stories or tips or anything with a comment. Thanks!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Love God Live Free

Today I changed the title of my blog. The other day Beth and I were talking about our blogs, and she informed me that this is really my blog. Yes, Matt is a part of it, but clearly it's pretty much my thoughts about our life. Anyway, in that conversation I said I was thinking about retitling my blog, but I didn't know what. Beth said it would come to me. Then it did.

Going through emails today, I noticed that the Daily Reading emails I receive from Ransomed Heart all say "Love God Live Free" at the top. I noticed this as I clicked the "Back to Messages" button and it flashed from my view. I quickly clicked the back button to see if I'd read it right. That was it.

Love God Live Free is exactly it. It's the top of peak, the pinnacle from which I slip down the mountainside and climb my way back up over and over again. This is the point...of it all. Right? I don't do this perfectly, I don't even do it well, but it makes me come alive when I catch it for even a moment. Maybe slapping this mantra on the top of my blog page will keep me from slipping down so often or quickly. What are your thoughts on this? Good or bad or otherwise?

A better plan

Matt's Assignment Night in May 2007.

There are two major conflicts inside the story in my head these days; just like any good sitcom, right? One is the situation with my job. (What happened? Oh, the injustice! Certainly God has my back in this as always.) Two is Matt's "upcoming" assignment. It's been upcoming for about three months already, but as far as we're concerned it might as well have been "upcoming" for three years already. (And the story in my head wonders will there be enough fighters? What if he gets a UAV? When in the world will we hear anything?)

The first story God and I have mostly tackled into understanding, except for every so often when Satan tries to plant a negative thought about it in me. We investigate those as they come. There has been a lot of healing in this place, although the scab hasn't gone away yet.

The second story is something I think about every day. Matt tries not to think about it at all. When he got FAIPed it was the last thing we were wanting. (I had apparently not even really considered it and therefore sobbed through most his initial assignment process. I think this time I'll be able to go with the flow at least a little better.)

Anyway, as we wait on the assignment and the start of a jobless school year approaches, I am deeply comforted by my reading today. I have been reading Beth Moore's David: 90 Days with a Heart Like His.

Today's devotional begins with reading 1 Samuel: 8: 1-22. The Scripture is about the end of Samuel's leadership, when the Israelites are demanding he appoint a king as his successor. The problem is, the Israelites have it all wrong. They want a king because all the other countries have kings. They want a king so they can be cool, get what they want, be up with the times. Basically, because they think it will be all good news for them.

Samuel is devastated. He loved and sacrificed his whole life for these people who are turning on him. He goes to God for advice: (Excerpts from Beth's writing, not Scripture.)

"Then, in a move that seemed to justify and reward their misplaced values and short-sightedness, the Lord told him to grant their request because they had not rejected Samuel as judge; they had rejected God as king. As always, Samuel obeyed."

God is giving them their king, but not without first having Samuel tell them all the turmoil this will cost them:

"Still, he told the people of the taxes they would pay, the freedoms they would lose, and ultimately how their sons and daughters would be reduced to virtual slavery by the fulfillment of their request. No matter how Samuel reasoned, however, the people wanted a king. They wanted a king for all the wrong reasons. Ultimately, they wanted a king because the other nations had them.

We can see so many truths in the situation. One lesson speaks of patience. God had already planned a king for the people. Their lack of patience was to cost them dearly. If they had waited for the Lord's choice instead of demanding their way, how different might the story have been?

Another lesson from the story deals with rejection. None of us enjoys rejection, but when we are serving Christ, any rejection falls to His broad shoulders rather than our narrow ones. The next time you feel rejection's sting, remember God's words to Samuel: 'It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me' (v. 7).

Samuel warned the Israelites about what they were getting into. Often when God does not readily give us what we want, it is because He knows wat our desire would cost us. Faith sometimes means forgoing our desires because we trust Christ to have a better plan for our lives."

Patience and rejection, rejection and patience. Those are -more precisely- the storylines I described above. I'm not exactly sure what's what in this. We needed this lesson just as much at the beginning of these situations as we need it now at the end. We demanded of God then just as we have now. And patience and rejection have flowed through these stories side by side like the Tigris and Euphrates.

All I know is today I want to choose patience so that God's purposes may be fulfilled instead of my own. How much more beautiful that picture will be! I'm so grateful he knows better than I do.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5: 3-5

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Recipes: dinner #1

We made this recipe while at Beth's in June. It is from Cooking Light magazine. We used chicken in addition to the shrimp, but it didn't take the marinade quite as well and turned out a little dry. Ours was a bit overdone, too, but the shrimp were still very juicy.

Lemongrass and garlic shrimp

This is our version on the top and Cooking Light's version on the bottom.

1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 fresh lemongrass stalk, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, grated
36 jump shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 2 pounds)

1. Combine sugar, canola oil, fish sauce, chopped lemongrass, and grated garlic in a food processor or mini chopper; process until the lemongrass is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a large zip-top plastic bag. Add shrimp; seal and marinate in refrigerator 45 minutes.

2. Prepare grill to high heat.

3. Remove shrimp from bag; discard marinade. Thread 6 shrimp onto each of 6 (12-inch) skewers. Place skewers on grill rack; grill 2 minutes on each side or until done.

We served this recipe with sugar snap peas sauteed with garlic salt and olive oil and also ciabatta bread with butter.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A hole in the water

Sunday was one of those days when you feel like it would have been better to just stay in bed. A day when you have the best of outlooks, and then your outlook gets dashed by one wrong turn after another.

My original idea was to unload on you all the downs of our day Sunday, which would be depressing. What I'm sharing with you instead is the reasons why my husband is a wise man, as proven by his wise decisions on Sunday while we attempted to have a day at the lake out on the boat.

1. Matt said we should stay here and go to the lake in town instead of two hours away in Oklahoma like I wanted to.

2. Matt said, let's just go for the day instead of spending the night camping (my idea) in this insane heat.

3. When the boat battery was dead, Matt said let's test and charge this one if we can instead of just buying a new one just to be safe/because you don't want to risk failure.

4. Matt followed me out of the Wal-Mart when I started crying because no one would offer us anything resembling customer service.

5. Matt decided to choose a better establishment (Auto Zone) to get the job done right, even though it was a touch more expensive.

6. Matt tested the battery again in the boat in the parking lot of Auto Zone before leaving the store.

7. Matt persevered with starting the winterized boat motor without becoming angry or irate.

8. Matt decided to stay with the boat and let his wife drive the trailer ashore because he was sure she knew was she was doing.

9. Matt firmly told his wife to get out of the car and hold the boat when she somehow forgot that pulling in the boat trailer required starting the engine of her manual vehicle and she began to scream as the vehicle rolled deeper into the water.

10. When the trailer was ashore, but the boat wouldn't start again, Matt told his wife to hold the boat this time while he put the trailer in the water.

11. When both the boat and trailer were firmly on land, Matt rechecked the battery instead of just driving home angry and confused like his wife might have done.

12. When it was discovered that the battery's wingnut had gotten loose somewhere in all that activity and had condensation on it, Matt calmly solved the problem and successfully tried the boat in the water for the third time. This time the motor worked perfectly. He took the trailer ashore himself and had Brooke pick him up near the ramp as to their usual arrangement.

13. When the boat finally worked, Matt drove it near and upwind of the boat ramp just in case the battery died again or they incurred some other problem. Brooke would have gone cruising clear across the lake and probably ended up having to get the paddle out again.

Here's us trying to enjoy finally being out on the water after about 6 hours of everything else.

14. Matt suggested we order pizza for dinner when we finally the boat put away Sunday night instead of cooking what I had originally planned.

Sunday was one of those days. I'm sure glad I have a wise husband to join me in this adventure we call life. I don't know where I'd be without him.
As for the "A hole in the water" title, that's what Matt's Dad calls a boat: a hole in the water that you sink money into. Most of the time that's pretty true, especially considering we just had a few pieces of the seating reupholstered and are probably going to have to buy a new window soon. Ironically, all we paid for Sunday was gas to make all those runs to and from the lake.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recipes: lunch or snack

The new pb & j

1-2 slices of bread (1 for a snack, 2 for a lunch)
1-2 tablespoons honey roasted peanut butter (this is awesome freshly ground from a natural foods store, but the Peter Pan variety is also quite delicious)
A handful of blueberries

Spread peanut butter on bread. Pour and place blueberries evenly over the peanut butter. Either fold in half for small version or cover with another slice of bread for large version. Enjoy!

Matt came up with this while at S.O.S. in Alabama. It's good and simple. We love it:)

Turkey tomato open-face sandwich

1 slice of bread
1 teaspoon honey mustard
3 ounces shaved deli turkey breast
1 small tomato, sliced
1 slice provolone cheese (or your preferance)

Put bread on microwave safe plate and pile high with remaining ingredients in order listed. Microwave about 30 seconds or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

I was inspired by Beth's bagel at Einstein Bros. that had turkey, tomato, and cheddar on it so I came up with this one to use up a few things in the frig. It was nice and light; just right.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Recipes: breakfast

I recently learned how to make omelets. I mean really make omelets. I kind of knew how to make them before, but the flipping/folding part was always trial and error; oh, as well as the "I hope it's cooked through" part. Those days are long gone.

I discovered the trick in my cookbook (Food to Live By is the name of it). After it all turned out so well, I said to Matt, "How come I never looked this up in the cookbook before?" It seemed such an obvious place to look! I would look there to make anything else, why not omelets?

Okay, so if you're like me and don't know the trick already, here it is, straight from my cookbook:

(Start by making your egg mixture the way you like. For mine, I use one egg and one egg white plus a little salt and pepper. Whisk ingredients to combine.)

1. Melt the butter in a small (7 inch), nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the egg mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the eggs begin to set up along the bottom of the pan. Using a spatula, push the cooked egg gently into the center of the skillet, at the same time tilting the skillet so that any runny, unset egg mixture rolls onto the hot surface. Do this once or twice until most of the egg has set, 2 to 4 minutes.

2. Spoon the filling over half of the omelet. If the eggs are too soft for your taste, turn off the heat and cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil and let them sit for 2 minutes.

3. When the eggs are cooked to your liking, run a spatula around the edge of the omelet to release it from the pan. Place the skillet at an angle against the edge of the serving plate and carefully slide the filled half of the omelet onto the plate. Using the pan to help you, fold the remaining half of the omelet over the filling. Serve immediately.

For the omelet filling in the above picture, I melted a dab of butter, then added baby spinach, some diced tomato and onion, a bit of minced garlic, and cooked for about five minutes or until the egg mixture was ready. Once the filling was on the omelet, I added about a tablespoon of shredded parmesan cheese.

This was delicious! Even Matt enjoyed it (by the way, that is a marvel because there is no meat in this recipe)!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Colorado vacation, the end

It's time to catch up in blogland, so here I am. Here's one last post about Colorado (except I just remembered one more recipe we made that I'll have to share in my upcoming recipe posts...I have 7 recipes to share!).

I had a great time visiting Beth and her clan. The best thing about visiting Beth is that you get to experience her life. There's always so much going on with her over in C-Springs, and it's really fun to be a part of it all. We did everything from the normal everday stuff like grocery shopping and getting gas to new and exciting things like mini courses in veterinary medicine (okay, maybe Beth's the only one who'll think that's funny...). Mostly we talked and ate. That's what we do, and often we do them at the same time. It's nice to be in the same place and get to do them together:)

With that, here's a hodge podge of left-over (haha, 'cause we ate a lot...) pictures from my trip.

We had a girls' night out at P.F. Chang's, one of our favorite places. Here are Becca and Beth, two of my favorite gals.

And here's B and B, that's Big B for Beth and Lil' B for Brooke.

Me and Becca. Our meal was so delicious. All together we shared two appetizers, two entrees, two desserts, and six drinks. It was wonderful!

On another night we made brownies. Here's Becca enjoying the bowl.

We spent some time and money over in the Briargate shops. I thought this was a nice sunny view of them.

While the rest of us relaxed, Beth worked to get ready for her hospitality manager job at this year's LIFE conference in Kentucky.

Becca had to work a bit, glad I could be there to interrupt their normal routine:)

Okay, that was the randomness of Colorado. I have a couple pics of our time in Alabama. Then, next up is more recipes than I originally thought. It turns out I actually have 10! Did I mention I've been cooking a lot since we got back.
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