Thursday, November 28, 2013

Today we are especially thankful for the people in this picture. Family is a wonderful thing that we never want to take for granted, and we are extremely grateful for the relationships we have with ours. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! 

On Using the Lord's Name in Vain. [Even More Honest Thoughts]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thank you to everyone who commented/ messaged/ texted/ generally encouraged me yesterday in response to my post.  It's wonderful and weird being vulnerable to both strangers and loved ones but I think it's ultimately quite rewarding, despite being risky.

On the note of riskiness: I received a message from someone in reference to the following part of that particular entry:

"The pain has certainly eased up since then. It's been over ten years, for Christ's sake. But there's something new that is taking its place... this fear, this anxiety, that I'm going to forget her completely."

The messenger was concerned about my using the Lord's name in vain and wanted to remind me of the preciousness of the name of Jesus Christ.  I want to assure that person (and anyone else reading) that I did not, in fact, forget about the third commandment.  I am thankful for that person's bravery in approaching me (albeit cyberly); it's certainly not easy!  I wanted to post my response here in case anyone else had the same concern:


Thanks for your message. I appreciate you standing up for your beliefs and I know it takes a lot of courage to confront people.

My reason for keeping my wording in that (and all of my) blog posts is not at all out of flippancy for the name of the Lord, nor is it for shock value.

 I strive to be very authentic in my posts, and the truth is that if I were talking to a friend over coffee about the real and raw emotions of my heart I wouldn't censor myself. The truth is, I have a long way to go in the refinement of myself as a "good" person, and unfortunately when I am vulnerable I slip up. Sometimes I say not-so-nice things, sometimes I even curse. It's not a habit and it's not something you'll hear (or read, since you and I don't speak face to face) often, but it's there- seldom as it may be, it's still there.

I think it's unfortunate that so much of what exists in the blog world is polished- messy houses cleaned to look good for pictures, messy marriages shined up for the sake of looking good, and raw dictation edited for the sake of being unoffensive. People, in blogs, often "clean up" their faiths so that they look polished and perfect. I don't want to be that. I never want to come across as having a perfect faith, or a perfect life in general. So, as I was writing my post (which I often go about doing as if I were writing in my journal- sort of "stream of consciousness" like) that was what first came to my head. I thought about editing it for that very reason- that we are not to use the Lord's precious name in vain. But I'd already done so in my head and
my goal is and always will be to show my authentic self to those who read my blog- sins and flaws included.

So there you have it.  I understand that this blog isn't for everyone; I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would rather stay away from messy rawness.  Likewise, there are plenty of blogs that post lots of pretty pictures and tasty recipes and fun DIYs without the personal-life stuff.  This isn't one of them (though I hope it's not all heavy- I try to keep it lighthearted on occasion too!) and I hope that the words I convey on this page consistently ring true to the person I am in real life.

Image via A Cup of Jo

Honest Thoughts on Letting Go

Monday, November 25, 2013

This past weekend my dad had a yard sale. I stopped by just after it started to drop off some things we wanted to sell. As I was perusing the piles of things that were set out I noticed a very familiar piece of pink lace hanging over the side of a cardboard box. My heart sank and I ran over and pulled out a vintage lace dress that my mom had bought decades ago to add to her awesome costume collection. I immediately yanked it out and rummaged frantically through the box for other possessions that were hers. I had to rescue them. All of them.

For those that don't know; my mom died unexpectedly when I was 13. I mourned in a mostly healthy fashion and grew up well in spite of the circumstances. I am often touted for my resilience or ability to overcome tough circumstances. "You're a strong one" they say.

And most of the time I would agree. While that hole in my heart will never truly be gone I've managed to use those tough times as a propellent to do good in the world. I try hard to not see myself as a victim. "You're right," I'd reply. "I am a strong one."

But then the sight of one single dress shoved in one single box lying on the pavement sends me into a panicked frenzy.

I know someone whose wife passed away and for years he didn't clean out her closet.  The thought of getting rid of her clothes was akin to getting rid of her and he couldn't bear to get rid of her.  If her clothes were still around he wouldn't have to face the fact that she wasn't.  And I felt sad for him- I really did.

Meanwhile my own mother's clothes were packed away safely in the garage.  I was able to mostly move on because I didn't have to see them hanging in the closet every day, but I also didn't have to fully let them go.

The pain has certainly eased up since then.  It's been over ten years, for Christ's sake.  But there's something new that is taking its place... this fear, this anxiety, that I'm going to forget her completely.  I can no longer remember the sound of her laugh.  I had completely forgotten about her plum leather driving gloves until I saw them lying in that yard sale box.  And I guess, I don't know, I guess it feels like if I can save all of her possessions then I will be able to preserve those memories.  I won't have to think about them every day, but on days when it seems like her face is fading away I can go out to the garage and open up that box and seep in some memories of her, even if it's just for a couple of minutes.

But that's not how it works.  Even if I gathered up every possession she ever owned it still wouldn't bring her back.  And it's true- memories do fade- but not all of them.  I'll never forget lying in the dark listening to her tell me stories about "star girl."  I'll always remember her dressing up in an Elizabethan gown with a pillow shoved under it and going out on Halloween as "Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending."  That dress is long gone, but that memory remains.

So on Saturday morning after a minor  major internal crisis I calmly picked out a few of her things to take home: a couple lace flapper dresses, some French berets she loved to wear, and those beautiful leather driving gloves.  I winced when I saw a woman pick up one of her old purses and offered 50 cents for it, but I made a decision to let it go.  It's what my mom would've wanted, anyhow.

Dried Cherry Almond Cookies

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A couple of weekends ago we got started on our Christmas gifts for our friends and family (more on that later) and we had some dried cherries left over.  Cherries are a rare sighting in our house so I immediately started brainstorming things I could put them in- Salad? Quinoa? Cookies? I think we all can see the obvious choice here.

Now that our oven is fixed and the weather has cooled down all I want to do is bake.  I modified this recipe from Giada and these cookies went so fast that I didn't even have time to snap a picture of them... that's okay though because, to be completely honest, mine were kinda ugly.  (Photo above from Food Network.)

My favorite thing about these cookies is that they aren't super sweet so I feel totally justified in eating them for breakfast.  Hm. Breakfast cookies..... I like it.

Dried Cherry Almond Cookies
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
Makes 2 Dozen

  • 1 Stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Cup coarsely chopped dried cherries

For the icing:
  • 1 1/2 Cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together butter, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, and salt on low for 2 minutes.  Beat in egg until just combined.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, add in flour and cherries.  Mix until no white streaks remain.
  3. On a sheet of plastic wrap, arrange the dough into the shape of a log about 1 foot long and 1.5 inches across.  Roll up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Cut log into 24 equal pieces.  Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper at 350 degrees for 15 minutes in 2 batches of 12 cookies each. 
  5. For the icing, combine vanilla and milk and gradually pour mixture in with the sugar until it is about the consistency of pancake syrup (the fake kind, not the real maple syrup!)
  6. Place cookies on a sheet of parchment paper and drizzle icing over them.  Allow icing to set for 1 hour (if you can wait that long.)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

 You may have noticed that things are looking a little different around here.  Thanks to Photographic Elements I was able to give this blog a fresh new look on a dime.  I highly recommend checking them out!  Not only do they have gorgeous blog designs but they also create save-the-dates, downloadable holiday cards, and so much more.

Tammy was so helpful and responsive to my questions, and I look forward to using her services in the future!

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Monday, November 18, 2013

I recently took a trip to the South Pasadena Farmer's Market to buy produce and let me tell you- I am officially hooked on farm fresh vegetables.

I don't know why it took me so long to come around; maybe because it requires planning ahead? Most of the Farmer's Markets around us happen on Sunday mornings which, up until now, I have often spent working.  The one in South Pasadena happens on Thursday afternoons so it is super easy for me to just take the train over after class if Ty has the car.  And, it could be all in my mind, but I swear these vegetables were more colorful and more flavorful than the ones I buy at the grocery store.  It also just feels good to know that you are supporting a local, family-owned farm.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from Paula Deen
Serves 4


  • 2 lbs cubed butternut squash (This is an excellent video on how to dice a squash)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 Cup cream
  • 4-5 Cups chicken broth
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste


1. In a medium saucepan combine Squash, onion, carrots, and chicken broth.  Allow to simmer uncovered about 40 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

2. Blend in a blender or food processor in batches, leaving the lid slightly ajar so as to allow steam to escape.

3. Whisk in cream, nutmeg, and salt to taste.  If the consistency is too thick for your liking add in a bit more chicken broth.  I recommend serving with warm French bread.

**Linking up at Kitchinspiration with Chelsea and Stephanie**

Early to Rise

Friday, November 15, 2013

One of my (many) New Year's resolutions this year was to start getting up earlier.  I am a very, uh, gifted sleeper and could easily sleep all day if left to my own devices.  But the truth is that I really don't like sleeping in.  I hate feeling like I've wasted a good chunk of my day and I double hate feeling rushed to get ready and get out the door to make it somewhere on time.  As hard as it can sometimes be to get out of bed it is always worth it.  But that pesky task of getting out of bed is what usually trips me up.

A few days ago I read this article from HuffPost titled "5 Things You Already Did Wrong Before 9 AM"  It's great and I highly suggest reading it if you don't consider yourself a "morning person."  My favorite suggestion they give is to stop hitting the snooze button:

     "Every time you hit the snooze button you are not doing what it is you set out to do that morning, which is get out of bed at whatever time you set the alarm for. You are therefore failing, miserably, at your first task of the day. Those seven minutes of guilty, woozy, semi-sleep is just not worth the karmic hangover."

Harsh, but true.  I have started getting up two hours before I need to leave the house and it has made a world of difference in how my day plays out.  Rather than starting out the day in a disorganized (and often hungry) panic, I leave my house feeling accomplished and at peace (and, usually by that point, fully awake!)

I'm not going to lie; even after getting up early almost every day it is still such a struggle for me.  I've found it takes near-ideal circumstances to pull me away from my bed in the morning, but with a little planning it's not impossible. Here are a couple of things that I do that make it a little bit easier.

1. Water- I keep a glass of water on my bedside table and as soon as my alarm goes off I chug it. I am typically dehydrated in the morning and dehydration makes me feel groggy, so it helps to get a jump start on my water consumption right away.

2. Light- When I was in high school my dad would come into my room in the morning and turn on the bright overhead light to wake me up.  It's brutal, but it works!  Now I usually opt for a bit of a softer wake up by turning on the lamp on my bedside table as soon as my alarm goes off.

3. Coffee- I realize this sort of works against the whole re-hydration goal, so that's extra motivation to drink water in the morning.  Setting the automatic timer on the coffeepot to go off when my alarm does lets me wake up to the scent (and sound) of coffee brewing.  That's a sure way to get me up!

4. Happy- Getting up in the morning is so much easier when I have something immediate to look forward to.  I have created a morning routine that makes me feel happy and at peace.  It includes slowly sipping my coffee, eating breakfast, catching up on blogs, and having quiet time with God.  These are little things but they make such a difference in the outcome of my day.

Do you consider yourself a morning person? What are some ways that you make mornings easier on yourself? I'd love to hear your comments!

Combating Worry

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a chronic worrier.  I have been since I was a kid.  I remember as a little girl I would get so worried when my dad left for work in the morning that he was going to get into a car accident.  While I won’t go into reasoning behind my worry I know that I am not alone.  The more I bring my own worries out into the open the more I begin to hear similar stories from others.  Whether it is about finances, about health, or about losing a loved one the thread of worry is more common than I ever realized.

Worry can stem from many different things and often looks different for everyone.  There isn't one singular cure-all for it, though I’ve heard many suggestions:
“Just read the bible! ”
“Just practice gratitude!”
or my personal favorite,
“Just stop worrying!”

While all of those are good suggestions (okay maybe not the last one) what works for one person may not work for another because worry can be a result of a plethora of other issues.  Often it is a symptom of a much larger issue, and the resolution of those issues looks different for everyone.

One tactic that has been helpful for me in keeping my worry under control is reviewing past worrisome situations and thinking about how God has helped me through them.  I’ve seen this most tangibly in the case of finances.  There have been more than a few times in the past year that Tyler and I have found ourselves in a tough spot financially and then God provides for us in some totally off the wall way.  Just this morning I was talking about how worried I was about paying for Tyler’s classes (we were recently hit with a huge lump sum that we were unaware we needed to pay) and trying to figure out how in the world we were going to come up with the money.  Then, in the middle of class this afternoon, I received an email informing me that I was going to be receiving a (very generous) monetary thank-you gift for referring a client to my former workplace.  The timing could not have been more perfect.  It’s situations like this that remind me that ultimately my future and livelihood are in God’s hands, and thinking over them helps lessen my tendency to worry over the details.

What are some ways that you combat worrying? 

Fall Snapshots

Monday, November 11, 2013

It seems I've lost any ability I ever had to pass up a tiny pumpkin when I see one in the store.  I've been collecting them for a couple of weeks now and I wish I could keep them all.  Those, along with some hidden treasures we've dug up in the garage of my childhood home are making our mantle look quite happy these days.  Here are some snapshots that I hope make you feel happy, too.

 painting by my grandpa, who is a phenomenal artist//this face never ceases to brighten my day//pumpkin & pine cones//plant-sitting for a friend who's moving//my grandma's old candlesticks//my mom's old silver kettle

The Importance of Play

Friday, November 8, 2013

When I was a kid pretty much all I wanted to do was play.  Whether it was riding my bike, playing "teacher" or building things with tinker toys the majority of my days were devoted to playing.  Even as an adolescent I remember making up pool games with my best friend and spending hours coming up with silly competitions on the trampoline (one of which landed me in a cast!)  But somewhere around high school a shift began to happen.  Productivity became of utmost importance, and time spent playing was viewed as frivolous.  Creativity became restrained to school projects and silliness seemed go out the window the older I got.

Playing provides tremendous health benefits.  It releases stress, keeps cognitive functions sharp, encourages creativity, and provides exercise.  Yet for some reason many of us hold on to the belief that once we reach adulthood we need to "get serious."  Even if we don't hold this belief, many of us seem to simply not have the time for play.

My attitude about play shifted immensely when I went to college at Pepperdine, where play is encouraged frequently. (Puppies and bounce houses during finals week? Yes please.)  Tyler has been a wonderful influence to me to seek out childlike joy in ordinary circumstances, and to play every opportunity I get.

So I propose we all strive to make a bit more room for play in our lives.  You don't have to go out and buy a trampoline to do so (though I still would count that as an excellent investment!) You may simply need to shift the way you think about play.  Here are some easy ways to incorporate more lightheartedness into your day-to-day

Take up a new sport/ instrument/ hobby: Yes, knitting counts as play! Learning a new enjoyable skill is a great way to keep your mind sharp and bring novelty to your life.

Revert to your childhood: jump on the hotel bed, build a fort, play with swords in the toy aisle.  Things that takes us back to an earlier time can help keep us from taking ourselves too seriously.  

Learn a new board game: Games provide amazing cognitive benefits and are also a great way to foster community. (We're big time Settlers!)

Seek Thrills: From the time we reach adolescence we become hard wired to pursue risks.  For some this may include rollercoasters and skydiving; for others it may simply mean taking the plunge of being the first one on the dance floor.  Either way, it's important to step outside our comfort zones and seek out (relatively safe) activities that give us a sense of exhilaration.

Spend time with little ones: One of the best ways to stay in touch with your inner-child is to hang out with real life kids.  Volunteer with the Sunday school program at your church or offer to babysit for a friend.  When you spend time with kids who use their imaginations every day you will be shocked at how quickly you are able to reclaim your own.

What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate play into your life?

November Wishlist

Monday, November 4, 2013

The weather has finally started to cool down in LA and that means I'm lusting over chunky sweaters, spicy candles, and anything with the word "butter" in the title.

What are you pining after this season?

Currently On Repeat- Come Thou Fount

Friday, November 1, 2013

This song never fails to bring me to tears.  It is my favorite hymn of all time and it was played at our wedding by Ty's dad and our dear friend Matt.  As I sit in my living room this morning enveloped by the smells of Fall, the warmth of friends and family, and countless other undeserved blessings I can't help but acknowledge what a debtor to Grace I truly am.  I am messy, doubting, fickle, and so, so prone to wander.  Yet here I sit, washed in the power of Grace.  Today my prayer is that my heart would become increasingly attuned to sing and rejoice in that Grace.