Thursday, June 30, 2011

A holy experience

Thank you, Jenn, for introducing me to this amazing blog, A Holy Experience. Ann's words are inspiring. I still have tears in my eyes from reading these posts:

No middle ground

An endless celebration

About the author

Her words resonate with me so deeply, so purely. Love and relationship and living. This is life, this is the way. Sometimes my heart aches against this temporary life I live, people coming and going so frequently. Relationships come and go with the seasons. It feels like we aren't here long enough for relationship, for loving well. But maybe that's the point. Maybe our life is temporary, coming and going in the right amounts so that we are here and there just enough to love in the ways God has made for us.

A full house

My idea of a gift: people to cook for and with.

I received my gift last week when my friends Beth and Becca came for a visit to Resort a la Keilen (a.k.a. our new apartment with the fantastic pool). We were so delighted to have them, so we made this:

Spinach and Red Pepper Farfalle with Cream Sauce

It was very easy. We just kind of made it up.


2 lbs. chicken breast, sliced in half horizontally
1 pkg. Farfalle pasta
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag fresh spinach
1 large red pepper, seeded and sliced
Italian marinade (we made one from a recipe found online...olive oil, water, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and several herbs)
Beth's cream sauce (I think it was butter, flour, white wine, milk, cream, salt, pepper, and basil)
Shredded parmesan cheese
Pine nuts


1. Prepare marinade and marinate chicken for about 2 hours.
2. Drain at least half the marinade and bake chicken at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until done.
3. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
3. Using cast iron skillet, heat olive oil; then saute onion and garlic until browned. Stir frequently. Add red pepper; cook until tender. Add spinach; cook covered until wilted.
4. Call Beth to remember how to make cream sauce:) Or, I think: melt butter in small sauce pan, stir in flour. Add a little white wine. Warm the milk, and stir into the mixture over low heat. Add a dash of cream and seasonings to taste. Stir frequently.
5. Use the pine nuts and paremsan cheese for garnish.

Beth and Becca enjoy our family style meal. I am reminded that I love this, and prepared meals for Matt and I this way for a week:)

He really does like it. "Green stuff" just makes him nervous.

The next day we made dirt cake!

Charlie stared at us intently, waiting for anything to drop. He eventually got his wish, too, because it's hard to pour oreo crumbs without spilling any.

For future reference, it's also hard to make oreo crumbs in the first place unless you own a food processor or something (which I don't).

Three Bs knowing dirt cake will be at least as much fun to eat as it was to make.

The only picture of just Beth and I,and it's basically a picture of my forehead.

I couldn't find gummy worms so we used "Sluggles". You have to put something in dirt cake, we supposed, but the "gummy flavor" really permeated the chocolatey flavor. Maybe next time we'll just have dirt and mud, sans Sluggles.

Taste test approved.

Maybe next time we won't make such massive quantities of dirt cake either? We ate our fill, and then had to give some to the neighbor (who prepared a delicious meal of London Broil the night before Beth and Becca flew back home)! I still need to get that bowl back...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strubbler (long u)

I came up with something new this morning. As soon as Blogger lets me upload the pictures, I will post them here for you. I decided to make some kind of baked fruit thing to use up the managerie of fruits in my refrigerator, but I couldn't decide between fruit crisp (with that buttery cinnamon-y topping I grew up calling strudel) and fruit cobbler (with its more wholesome seeming breakfast-y, biscuit-y topping).

I made both!!

Well, I mean, I didn't make two "baked fruit things". There's no way too of us could reasonably consume the equivalent of two pies. I just put two toppings on one "baked fruit thing". The result is delicious!!

Here's how I did it:

Thankfully the recipes for fruit crisp and fruit cobbler are side by side in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (the one I grew up calling "The Betty Crocker Cookbook" for some reason...).

1. To start I cut up and put into the pot the fruit I had on hand (for me it was two apples, two peaches, about 6 strawberries, roughly 1.5 cups frozen blueberries). I followed the recipe by adding cornstarch and sugar, and when it was thick and bubbly transferred it to a glass baking dish.

2. I prepared separately the cobbler topping and crisp/strudel topping. The cobbler topping went on first, then the strudel. I baked it at a median (between the two temperatures specified in the recipes) oven temperature (375 degrees, I think) for a median duration (22 minutes, I think). I have a hot oven (right, Beth?! :), so you may have to adjust appropriately for yours.

3. That's it! The final product has a lot of topping, or maybe I didn't have quite as much fruit as called for in the recipe. Either way, you can adjust the amounts according to your liking. It comes out kind of like coffee cake with fruit on the bottom. Maybe I could call it Fruit on the Bottom Coffee Cake? Not very catchy. Perhaps Crispler? Cobdel? Strubbler? Hmm, better think of a name that actually makes someone want to eat it!

What name ideas do you have?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On top of Mount Lemmon

We have visitors! Mom and Alan came to spend a few days with us recently as part of their multi-destination trip to the western U.S. The weather here, of course, was quite toasty so we headed up to Mt. Lemmon for a refreshing retreat.

The road up the mountain makes for a beautiful drive. I've heard you go through more ecosystems in less vertical feet than anywhere else on earth...or something like that. Regardless of the exact fact, it was pretty neat to see the transition from desert scrub to saguaro cactus forest and then onto mountain scrub and coniferous forest.

Me and Mom on top of the mountain. What a great view! We're so glad you guys came, and glad we could enjoy the mountain together.

Me and husband. This picture might make it to the Christmas card:)

Alan and Mom enjoying being part of the scenery.

They even have a ski lift on Mt. Lemmon for the two weeks or so each year that there is snow enough for skiing.

Due to fires in the Coronado National Forest, we weren't able to stop (except for one visitor center, no hiking) on the way up the mountain. Quite hungry and needing a restroom at the top, we took the opportunity to enjoy the Aspen views and delicious food at "the restaurant".

The restaurant was called The Iron Door. We heard their specialty is pie, and after trying some we are believers! It was wonderful.

One more picture of the view from the top, at 9,500 feet (and 68 degrees!).

Saguaro cactus forest...yes, it's considered a forest.

The drive down the mountain offered excellent views of the mountains surrounding Tucson. Pictured are the Tucson Mountains to the west.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I realized something truly amazing and wonderful this morning (up in the morning coolness with coffee on the patio is always an opportunity to realize something truly amazing and wonderful): this has been the best year of my life.

Twenty seven is a fantastic age, joblessness has been a huge blessing for me and my husband, and I feel more the person I am meant to be with each passing day (minus a few exceptions, of course).

My year in review:
-Ended a wonderfully challenging year of teaching kindergarten.
-Began a season of serious transformation for my body, mind, and soul.
-Vacationed at the cottage for three weeks, which was heavenly and restorative. I also dared to drop a water ski and try slalom skiing, which has provided inspiration for other kinds of dares, too.
-Learned that husband got an assignment to fly A-10s; the fulfillment of all he's been waiting for.
-Studied scripture weekly with a tightly-knit group of amazing women I am blessed to call friends.
-Participated in life with family and friends more completely than it seems I ever have before.
-Practiced prayer, forgiveness, and what I think I'll call "purity of communication" with regularity.
-Took initial action on several big ideas to include volunteering, running, and writing.
-Practiced putting myself second with sporadic success.
-Realized sometimes we don't want an old tower with repairs that are patched, taped, and glued on. Sometimes we want to demolish the old tower, start fresh, and rebuild something wonderfully new. Sometimes this is God's choice for us as well.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I am excited to share with you photos of our new guest bedroom. I'm thrilled, of course, at the prospect of having guests (especially overnight because I love getting to wake up and enjoy coffee in pajamas with company and when I'm the company), but some of my enthusiasm is also because this is our first actual guestroom.

Let me tell you, the room has come a long way! This is before we unpacked. All the boxes with pink duct tape (thank you, Jenn!) and blue bins are from my classroom (and there are many more).

And this is what it looks like now:

I love the fact that we didn't have to buy a single thing to outfit the room. The bed and bedding used to be in our room. We made the end table from old cottage remnants Up North. The dresser used to be Marcy's, which I think Dad got out of a dumpster. A few years ago, Husband painted it and added the new drawer pulls. Lisa made the sunset painting (with water color and q-tips, no less), I did the curtains out of extra fabric and an old duvet cover, and the tea cup and saucer belonged to my Great Grandma Bradley. Can you believe we had all this and more between our one bedroom apartment and storage unit?

On the other side of the room, a handmade afghan from my Grandma rests on the chair, and the bookcase is the one we had to repair after the move.

If you do come for a visit, in addition to these lovely accommodations, you can also expect that we will cook! I had to take this picture of one of my favorite things about this new house:

I have a whole drawer in the kitchen just for spices!!

I got the idea to put spices in a drawer like this a few years ago from my friend Debbie (thanks, Deb!). I have wanted this ever since, but -until recently- didn't have nearly enough space for it.

Thanks for listening, and welcome to our home! If ever you find yourself coming this way or in need of a vacation, just let us know and we will gladly have you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Can't help myself

I don't usually do product endorsements on my blog, but today I just can't help myself, and this is why:

I tried a few summery clothes on at Old Navy last week. I found this adorable shirt! It's even cuter on than in the picture, which is hard to come by. It has a camisole underneath, which is attached to the flowy floral tank at the shoulder. I had to order online to get the right size (I suggest getting one size smaller than usual). It -and several other things I ordered in order to get free shipping (half of which will be returned as it turns out)- arrived today. It was so pretty that I didn't even want to take it off, but I did because I had to clean house and didn't want it to get Win-dex all over it.

All that to say, so many women out there would love this top, so go out to Old Navy and try it on. We all want a few cute tops for summer, but sometimes the process can be agonizing and time-consuming. Take my tip if you're interested in a breezy shirt that is as comfortable as your old faded college t-shirt, but as pretty as a sundress. It also comes in yellow floral, green, and orange!

And Courtney, I thought of you right away. You would love this!

There was one more shirt worth mentioning if you are living anywhere really hot! This top is light and airy, but has adjustable straps so it doesn't come down too low. It has a shirt tail hem, which gives it that fun casual/pretty balance. It comes in other colors as well.

Coming soon: our guest bedroom retreat!
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