Thursday, March 31, 2011

the one (cent) that got away

"Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you'll have good luck."

I am that person. I have probably found over ten dollars in change in my lifetime if not more. When I find a penny, I pick it up. I often find nickels, dimes sometimes quarters and even bills. Last year, in New York City, on our mission trip I found $1.22! I found eleven cents in Nashville. And while you can joke and make fun of me all you want, this change adds up.

I have an eye for change. I can quickly distinguish between a shiny wrapper and a dirty penny. The students on the mission trip teased me and told me they were going to go around Grand Rapids dropping change and then follow me with a camera to see if I got all of it. Sometimes I do wonder if someone isn't hiding, watching me pick up all of this change.

I have stopped in the middle of crossing the street to pick up a coin. Today was different. Bill and I were taking our walk as usual. As we walked across the street, traffic was busier than normal. A bus was turning out from the street and I think a car or two were waiting to turn. In a split second I saw the penny. It was down in the cracked pavement. As the bus loomed ever closer, I fought the urge to stop and pick it up. It was too much trouble to risk getting hit by the bus who probably wouldn't understand this pedestrian stopping in the middle of the street. For a penny.

But those pennies add up. And I will look for it on our next walk.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mmm pork

I am in the process of making our dinner for tonight. It will be "Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork".

Here it is before I put it in the oven. It's a pork shoulder (4lbs) on a yellow onion, cut into wedges. The gross looking things on top of the pork are chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I didn't even think I'd be able to find them. But I did! Right there in the ethnic aisle.

Yes, this recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman. Given my love for pork of all kinds it is no surprise that whenever I see a pork recipe, I'll try it. That includes the two pork roast recipes I have that are virtually identical. The only difference is the sauce and what they're wrapped with (one is pancetta the other is bacon -it's still the same thing).

Ever since I found this recipe my mouth has been watering. I cannot wait to taste it (trust me, I will. I don't want ecoli or whatever you can get from eating raw meat).

To go with this pulled pork, I will be making the new favorite potato salad. Did I mention that on here?? It's amazing! And what's more important is it won't make you sick if you leave it sit out too long (thanks Katrina for teaching me something new)! What's that you ask? Katrina told me that "salads" often go bad not because of the mayo, but because of the meat (cubed ham) that usually goes into the salad! While you shouldn't leave mayo out in the hot sun, leaving this potato salad out for two hours won't make you sick either.

Which is grand, because it's divine. I will try to take more pictures of our dinner before we consume it. I cannot guarantee anything.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Taco Tuesday

We used to have "Taco Tuesday" all the time. Our friend Heather O. would come over after work, we would take a walk and then have dinner. Often it was tacos. We enjoyed that and haven't really done it since she moved (*tear*) almost two years ago!

A week ago we had Jen and Amelia over. This week we decided to invite Tricia and Colin over (Colin was a sometimes guest at the previous Taco Tuesdays) because Colin said offhandedly that he missed Taco Tuesdays. We realized that we did too! After our dinner guests last week, it was an even stronger feeling. Maybe we'll keep inviting guests over every week (but probably not because the first and third weeks of the month are my "busy" weeks we just got lucky because March has five Wednesdays and Thursdays so I got an extra week "off").

We are having tacos.

And root beer floats. Because they sounded good.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Be a tree

I wrote the following for Ash Wednesday. As I mentioned here, I saved it for another day. Today is that day because I can't think of anything else to blog about... I modified it slightly.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. As United Methodists we are encouraged to give up or do something new for the period of Lent. We're not hard core (like the Catholics), but we do it to remind ourselves of the sacrifice.

In past years I've given up coca-cola, sugar, and coffee (that was before I really started drinking it, not as much of a challenge then as it would be now). I have done Bible studies, prayed for specific time periods, done daily devotionals and more.

This year, I decided to do yoga every day. It's probably not too much of a stretch (ha!) since I already do yoga three times a week. However, since Lent started while we were in Nashville, I realized this could be a bigger challenge then I expect.

I've been thinking all winter that I could do yoga every day, yet I've only managed to do it after our walks. I have found that when I make small goals, I achieve them. I know I can do this, and having the pressure of Lent can't hurt. It may become a habit, or not. Since I started doing yoga four years ago, I have done it off and on. I typically keep at it during the winter, only to get too busy in the summer. Or there was the summer I was a counselor at camp and hurt myself. I didn't do yoga after that for a long time (although it probably would have helped).

So far I have somehow managed to do some form of yoga on the weekdays. I never specifically said whether I would do yoga on Saturdays. So far I'm one for three on Saturdays, but since I didn't specify, I won't be too hard on myself.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

F1 2011 season

I'm not a huge sports fan. I like hockey (Go Red Wings!), baseball (Go Cubs!) and football (Go Lions, Colts, and... whoever else I feel like rooting for -never the Cowboys). I like soccer, but never watch it. I like the Olympics which is every two years.

The one thing we don't miss are the Formula One races, aka F1. This is more of a "European" sport [racing] than American. "We Americans" are more in love with Nascar, which frankly I don't understand at all. And yes, I did grow up in Indiana where basketball and racing are religions (separate just like Catholicism and Protestantism).

In college, my good friend Jesse (male) introduced me to F1. Who knew three years later when I met Bill that we would find a common interest in Formula 1. It's not like Indy racing or Nascar in that the circuits are complex, not just four left-hand turns many hundreds of times. F1 has lots of rules (which honestly does make it complicated especially because the Stewards can change the every year -which they do), but there have also been many advances in racing and cars in general due to the technology from F1.

I could go on about the technology, how we saw a race live in Indianapolis and watched one of the cars crash right in front of us, how it's more of a gentleman's race, or how loud it is. But we've recorded the first race of the season (Australia) and it's time to watch it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

green thumb

green thumb

An extraordinary ability to make plants grow well.

I am pretty good at growing plants. I have been known to revive dead plants, and outside the plants do very well. However, when it comes to indoor plants, I'm not good.

I don't understand. I kill cactus. My jade plants don't grow straight. One of my African Violets kicked the bucket (although that might have been because of all the moving it did, and then I over potted it meaning they like to be a little root bound and I re-potted it into a container that was too big). Our palm died and so did the spider plant. I have never been good at keeping anything alive indoors.

I find it ironic that I can grow plants outside to an extraordinary ability, yet inside my skills suffer. I think it has to do with the amount of water I give them. Outside, I let nature/God take care of them (I can tell when they do need to be watered outside), inside I either over-water them or under-water them. I can't find a happy medium.

So, if you want to share some of my plants, we can divide anything outside and I promise it will do well. But if it has to be inside... well that's a different matter.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday wishes

Bill and I went to see a musical last night performed by one of the high schools that three of our youth group members attend. It was called "Once on this Island" and they all did a fantastic job! Jenna is a freshman and she was a cast member. I told Bill, "I can see us visiting this auditorium many more times in the next three years." Her brother, Sean, is a junior and is just as talented. Bryant was in the "pit" which was actually located backstage. Bill and I take umbrage with calling it the "pit orchestra" if they're not located in the actual pit. At any rate, they all did a wonderful job and I love going to see them perform!

It wasn't too late when we got home last night, but rather than turn on the tv, we just read in bed. That laziness extended into today for me. While Bill is out hitting the pavement, I'm lounging in my comfy clothes. A Friday work day in pajamas is like the cat's pajamas. Or it's at least a good day. It's sunny (but still cold), it's Friday, and I'm working in my comfy clothes. If this were our Blah, Blah, Blog, Bill could write a song for me.

Instead I have a short list of happy wishes to send out today:
First, to Grandma. Happy 90th Birthday! We're taking her to dinner tomorrow night. She's a wonderful blessing to our family! (can you see the resemblance?)

Then to Alisha, Brad, Maddy and Lizzie: Congrats to your new baby Genna!! She was born last night at 9:47 (ish) Central time. I can't wait to meet the newest member. She looks precious and seems very happy (at least in the photos on fb).

And Happy Friday to everyone else!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sunrise Haiku

Spring Morning

From inky black skies
Light and colors start the day
In a morning show

That's my Sunrise Haiku

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

three hundred

I have reached 300 posts! I'm actually surprised that I'm just now hitting 300. It seems like I've written a lot more.

Check that. I have actually written 300, not all of them have been published. I have a lot of posts sitting in the edit stage waiting for a day when I don't have anything else to blog about. So you don't see 300, only behind the scenes have I reached that number.

That makes it seem worse!

I am on my 113th post in a row. This every day thing has been interesting. I never fancied myself a writer and have always admired those who can write (ie Bill and Heather O.). Maybe it's all this practice, or that my audience is so small/too nice that they don't want to criticize my writing, or maybe, maybe I'm getting a little bit better at this writing stuff.

It doesn't matter because my goal is to blog for an entire year (in case you've forgotten). I'm sure you all breathe a sigh of relief when I post pictures. I'll try to continue to do a little of both, although my photography skills are just as amateur as my writing skills.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

B & B

That darn cat
Atticus used one of his nine lives this morning. He was in my office and, as usual, had jumped up onto the twin bed. This bed used to be Bill's. It was handmade by the man who built the mock Oval Office in the Gerald Ford Museum here in Grand Rapids. This bed is solid cherry and is built to last. Considering it has now survived five moves and was broken down and reassembled each time; it is not showing any signs of wear or tear. It is not something that is easily moved. There is just enough room to stick the vacuum hose down between the bed and the wall. If something falls down there, it's lost forever (some day we'll have to move it to get the carpet cleaned -I can't wait to see what treasures lie back there!).

How does Atticus "fit" with this (would you like to guess where I'm going with this)? As I said, he was in my office and as I sat at my desk I heard a pitiful mew. I turned to see what he was doing and all I could see was his tail sticking straight up from between the wall and the head board. Then I saw his back paws. If I didn't know any better I would have thought he was training for the circus and was practicing hand (paw?) stands.

That is when I realized the cat was stuck and his little back paws were frantically trying to scale back up the wall to remove him from his predicament. I jumped up and screamed for Bill (what else would I do? I knew I couldn't move the bed on my own) and ran over (okay, the office is small, running is not an option, I reached the bed in three steps) to see what I could do. At this point his back legs disappeared as they flipped over backward. Thinking he had just killed himself, I held my breath. Then, quick as lightning, he clawed his way back out, head first. I don't know how he did it, but as soon as he was free he ran.

He has been curled up on the couch ever since.

Bed & Breakfast
Last night was fun. It reminded me of when I was little and we'd have "company". It never mattered who it was, it was just fun (minus cleaning my "pig-sty" of a room) and I was always excited. I was just as excited yesterday. I hope Jen and Amelia had enough to eat, that's always something I worry about. I tend not to overeat, so I usually make the right amount of food. I'm also used to cooking for two. Sometimes adding two more people makes a typical dish look much smaller.

I was thinking about how much fun it is to have dinner parties and to have friends come and visit. Did you ever dream of opening a B&B when you were younger? Bill and I used to think that would be fun. Loving old houses and wanting to run a B&B often go hand-in-hand. Somewhere along the lines, B&B's got creepy. Maybe it's Hollywood's portrayal of them (high-strung owners who aren't happy unless you do everything their way, coupled -ha! with the couples who apparently only go to B&B's to do it) but Bill and I decided that we're not interested in owning/operating one anymore.

Our friends and family are still welcome to come and stay whenever and as long as they like. We'll even fix them breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we won't be buying a bigger house and trying to make money off of it. We'll stick with our way of doing things. Who wants to come over for dinner?

Monday, March 21, 2011

short Monday post

I invited Jen and Amelia over for dinner tonight. They are college students and since I was blessed enough to have church family who cared for me while I was in college it's time to return the favor! (they're fun to hang out with too, so that's cool)

I'm making Paula Deen's cheeseburger meatloaf and homemade au gratin potatoes (I taught them how to make this in the Young Adults cooking class). We'll be having strawberry shortcake for dessert. I contemplated having a salad too, but I know that the meatloaf and potatoes will be filling enough. I want to save room for dessert!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

welcome spring, Michigan style

Last night did not disappoint. Have you heard of Leahy? Check them out here. Their performance was amazing. I don't think that describing them would do justice. The energy that they brought to the stage through their music (so, so talented) was pure foot-stomping, hand-clapping, head-bopping fun. I only hope that Bill will write a little bit about them since he was not thrilled to go and afterward was seriously happy that we "dragged" him with us. Their music is a mix of classic Irish with Scottish roots and what even sounded a little Mediterranean/Greek mixed in. Did I mention that they're Canadian and they're all brothers and sisters?


Today is the first day of spring. And typical Michigan, it's back to the chilly air and cold gray skies. The crocus and bird songs are all that bring the hope of spring today. Bill and I will be braving the cold to go take a walk. You see, we went out after the concert and while I wasn't hungry at all, I divulged in the appetizers we decided we had to have. Since I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, I must walk as much of it off as I can. I wouldn't normally be so concerned if I hadn't weighed three more pounds this morning!! sigh that's what overindulgence will do to you. But the company was fun and we had a good time. Chandra and Jason are wonderful friends!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

spring (for Heather W)

One of our friends does not believe that our crocus are in bloom. She thinks that Bill is telling a tall tale. Now, I could have used one of my photos from last year, or the year before, she would never know.
Instead, I just grabbed the camera and went outside at 9:19am to take pictures of our crocus as they currently exist. Did I mention I'm still in my pajamas? And it's only 31 degrees. Heather, I did this for you! So while you can't see the crocus opened up, you can still see all the purty flowers that will likely open as the sun stretches across the sky and touches them.

I just thought I'd add this photo to remind us of what it looked like just over one month ago (Feb. 5th).

Friday, March 18, 2011

dance like no one is watching

I enjoy "Dancing with the Stars". I love ballroom dancing and wish it was something everyone learned. I tried my best not to laugh while watching the line dancing while we were in Nashville. That just means that I was poking fun at something because I cannot do it. If it involves more than four things I'm out. Four is my limit. Remember my post from the other day? I mean it, four is it.

Last night I did the most Irish thing I have ever done on St. Patrick's Day and learned Irish dance steps. It was at our Quota meeting and one of our members is friends with a member of an Irish dance group here in Grand Rapids. Eight of them came to our meeting last night. First, they taught us the dance steps, then they shared some of the history and then they performed for us.

It was not like Riverdance at all!

It was a lot of fun, and the first step they taught us was a three-count. Yay! I can remember three! Then the instructor told us, even if you don't remember, no one will know. No one is paying attention if you're doing it right or wrong. That's even better!

The basic idea (and I mean basic) is similar to square-dancing. The foot movement is different, but the partners and complete dance is close (of course this is based on my fourth grade memory of when we learned square-dancing, but someone else said it too, so I must not be too far off). The foot movement is then related to clogging/tap. When you think about it, it all started somewhere and then cultures took it and molded it to fit their own style. That's what we learned last night about the history. These were waltzes that the French were doing, so the Irish sped them up and added their own music and viola! Irish jigs and fast feet.

We also learned that St. Patrick treated women with respect and taught that as well (here's the link to Wikipedia if you want to learn even more), so when learning the dancing we were told the woman is always right, as in to the right. Of course being a room full of women, we loved it!

One last thing; my favorite part of the movie, "Titanic" is when they are in the lower class deck dancing. I love the music and liveliness of that scene. Therefore I was amused when I came home to find Bill watching a documentary on the Titanic. And to top it off we are going to see a family of Celtic singers tomorrow night. Apparently Bill is the only one who doesn't want to go. Three of us are really looking forward to it, and I will probably be tapping my toes to the music.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

If you haven't heard me say it before, I like Shamrock Shakes. I like minty things in general; Girl Scout Thin Mints, York Peppermint Patties, Peppermint ice cream, peppermint bark to name a few. This is the time of year to get the Shamrock Shake. I've had four this "season" and may or may not have one today. I chugged down the last two I had, therefore the thought of one today actually makes me a little barfy. But four in the season is good enough.

Today is my parents wedding anniversary. They've been married 43 years!

It is also the anniversary/birthday of Juliette. We have had her nine years and she is ten today. In cat years that is something like sixty-three. She is showing her age, read Bill's blog for his hilarious comments. But she is still adorable and likes to play. She attacked our feet just last night. Now that I think about it, it's time to clip her nails...

I'm off to my Quota meeting. We're having Irish dancers join us as well as the Cool Cats. I'm looking forward to learning some Riverdance.

Don't let any leprechauns sneak up on you today!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

nine, devo, sketch, blog

You've probably heard of the book "Eat Pray Love". I read it and truly enjoyed it. I was enamored by the story. If you haven't read it, I will warn you that you might not feel the same way. It was one of those times when the stars aligned or something because I was definitely in the right mood to understand Elizabeth Gilbert's adventures (minus the break-up).

As you know, I use a lot of post-it notes to keep my life sane and in some sort of order. If you don't remember the story, you can read about it here. There are times when I don't have a post-it near by, mostly at night when I'm almost ready to fall asleep. Or when I'm in the car and can't write anything down (don't think it hasn't crossed my mind to stash a pad of post-its in my center console). I resort to the memory-game. Repeat the things I have to do, shortening them to one word phrases, until I can remember the three or four things. Thus the "Eat Pray Love" reference. My memory-games start to sound like the title of a book, or a blog.

This happened last night, so I thought I should share because I actually thought of this entire blog. I even went as far as writing it in my head, however since I was sans paper, this is not exactly how it went last night. But it's close enough and I'm running out of things from the mission trip to recap. I also realized that if I'm blogging every day for a year, maybe I should be sharing more about my days instead of just random thoughts (that's what Bill's blog is for).

So I'm not going to tell you what the title of this post means. It was just my memory-game so that I could remember to do those four things and it worked, although not in order. I should also point out that six is the magic number, anything more than six and I can't remember them. Usually it's just three or four things. I've made grocery lists and to-do lists like this and since post-its aren't safe in our house, this is a more effective way to remember things.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

where are you from? the b-side

I thought a lot about that title. You see there's another story with the question, "where are you from?" and I knew I had to write about it, but what to call it? I decided calling it the "b-side" like old school records would be the most appropriate. Let me share the story:

On our way to Nashville, we stopped in Noblesville to surprise my sister. It just so happened that I needed an umbrella (Occasionally Yours sells them) and we were due for a pit stop. I was sneaky and sent my sister a text asking if she was working. She replied that she was, this was perfect for us. I did not reply with another text, I'm sneaky like that.

We parked Big Red and as we walked toward her store, I pointed out the restrooms to the group closest to me, assuming the rest would follow. I walked into her store, past the greeter with my finger held over my lips so she didn't say anything other than "Welcome to O.Y.", went over to Cyndi and asked for an umbrella. She was taken aback when she looked up and saw me standing there. I gave her a big smile and she showed me where the umbrellas were.

At one point Sami asked me or said something about the bathrooms, so I pointed in their direction. She revealed that she told the other group, who didn't hear me on our way in, that the restrooms were past where we stopped. Oops!

That group eventually found us, and I asked one of the guys when they came in, where they came from? Meaning, had they found the restrooms? They had. Cyndi heard me ask where they were from and she thought there were people on the trip I didn't know, or there were people we picked up along the way.

That makes for a great story! Sami is known for her generosity and willingness to help people. It would never surprise me if we did stop for someone.

Now do you get it? It gives a whole new meaning to "where are you from?" It's the lighter side, or the b-side if you will.

Monday, March 14, 2011

where are you from?

On Wednesday night we had to watch a dvd. Sami and I were able to choose from a couple of choices and we picked the diversity dvd. Having a Canadian, a Californian whose parents are from Taiwan, our host who was from Mississippi but was born (I think) in India, Sami who's Philippino by marriage, and the rest of us being white and black; we were a pretty good mix.

One of the things we discussed was asking someone where they are from based on their looks. We were in a friendly and comfortable environment, so we were able to discuss things openly. I'm opening this up here to see what you think of that question. As we were discussing it, I realized my curiosity for asking is just that I'm curious about who you are. I'm not from anywhere specific. I'm mostly German (hello? my maiden name and married name give that away) but there's Irish in there too. I ask because I'm curious where you're from if you look different because you may have a direct history.

Just like when I'm asked where I'm from, I say I grew up in Indiana but I was born in Michigan (yes, I know I look like a Hoosier... that's a joke). I claim Michigan as my home. It's just who I am and where I'm from. No offense to Hoosiers. I loved growing up there, I love my friends who are from there. But I've lived in a lot of different places and I've seen where different people have come from. Whether it's been in Savannah (say hello to everyone you pass on the street and address everyone with Miss, Mister or Sir), New Jersey (say God Bless You when you hear someone sneeze) or someplace else.

I'm not trying to be rude or offensive when I ask someone. I have been involved in a similar conversation before. From that I took that maybe it's how you say it. So instead of "Where are you from?" maybe "Where did you grow up?" is better to avoid any misunderstanding. Then the conversation can open up from there. "Did your parents grow up there too?"

I'm bringing this up, because I tend to shut down when I hear that someone doesn't like the way questions are asked, and I've used that question before. For instance; I no longer ask people what they do because I know someone who finds that uncomfortable to answer because we often use their answer to define who they are. As a result, I go around talking to people for years before I know what their job is.

And then there's the story my dad tells about when he was in Texas on business. He was in a restaurant and some Texans over heard my dad talking. One of them said in his deep southern drawl, "You ain't from around here." My dad is not a large man, so he was a bit intimidated by that statement, not a question.

Sometimes where we're from is obvious. Sometimes it's not. We each have a history and I'm sorry if I ask you where you're from to find out more about you. I think it's our melting-pot nature in this country to assume you're not from here. I just hope it builds more relationships and breaks down more walls.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

photos from the trip

I really didn't take that many photos. I only had my camera with me on Sunday and took the more "tourist-y" photos. But I'll share them anyway, because some are pretty good (if I do say so myself and I just did.)

Sami makes dreams come true on these trips, and whenever we head south I enjoy my Krystal chicks and corn pups.

We took a trolley tour (via a bus because the trolley intercom system went out) which started on Broadway.

On the tour we saw Centennial Park and the Parthenon.

The tour started and ended in front of the Hard Rock Cafe. The gift shop is a Registered Historic Place, because of its Silver Dollar floor. And I liked the inside of the door.

After we did some shopping, Sami wanted to walk across the Pedestrian bridge. She thought she was headed the right way, but we ended up at the old Train Station instead. I was fine with that, because I would not have made it across or even onto the bridge.

We ate dinner at Swett's, a Southern food cafeteria style restaurant. I had the Country Fried Steak, with mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and the fried corn bread. I like regular corn bread.

Then we discovered (or rather Bernard discovered) the middle row was not really attached on one side. Sami was able to fix it, but this was the first (failed) attempt before the Prayer Tour. Needless to say there were lots of prayers said and here's a tip: don't try to fix a seat in a a15-passenger van at night. It's pointless, because you can't see anything. We had to remove the row behind it to finally fix it. She did it in the daylight in about five minutes. I would say I helped, but I really didn't do much. She's a pro at those seats.

This is Josh, trying to get out of the way, so she could attempt to fix it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

routine maintenance

I like routine. My body functions at 100% on a routine. Some people may call me high maintenance, I just think I know my body. I have learned from my different mission trips and road trips how to accommodate those needs. I don't think I'm high maintenance when it comes to my spiritual thirst or my mental capabilities. It's just my physical body that requires a lot of work, like a classic car. I won't try to compare the two in any more detail, I'll just leave it at that.

Now that I'm back home, I'm trying to get back into the routine. Going to bed and getting up at my normal time, eating my usual foods (I've never been so happy to see carrots and hummus) and going back to walking.

Bill and I were able to walk outside yesterday. It was a bright and sunny day, the temperature was just above 40 degrees, it was spring. There were other signs too! The crocus are blooming, although the flowers are smaller than usual and the tulips, daffodils and peonies are showing signs of growth. We saw many signs of spring in Nashville. The trees were all blooming and so were the daffodils. The tulips were out of the ground about six inches. While winter is my favorite season, spring comes in second (if you're curious it's fall then summer).

I can't wait until we can rebuild the garage. If for only one reason; to be able to see the beautiful plants bloom. Currently many things reside in the garden behind the garage. While it makes for a fun "secret garden", I don't really go hang out back there because there's no place to hang out. Maybe this year we should set up the swing back there so we can enjoy it. That just makes mowing the lawn difficult. The swing has its place right next to the deck (which happens to be "dead zone" for plant life anyway), it fits there better. But I miss the bleeding heart, and the false indigo. Only when I make it a point to go traipsing through the muddy yard do I get to see these things. I do try to check them out after walking, so I'm very happy that our walks outside have resumed. I welcome the spring and her beauty.

Friday, March 11, 2011

the next day

Did you like how I started my post from yesterday by saying it wouldn't be very long? Did you read my post from yesterday? It ended up being pretty long. So either it made very little sense because I was so tired, or I wasn't that tired.

As I've gone back and reread some of my posts, I realized how much I've left out (not including the pictures). I want to try to sum up the week to give you a better idea, in case it didn't come across.

First, it was awesome. In every way. We started out with a group who didn't know each other. And either I'm getting older and wiser or older and something else, because I was never worried about them not knowing each other (it was actually a group of "couples" and John) and by the end of the trip we couldn't get them to stop talking. That is awesome.

Second, CSM continues to be awesome. When I first started these trips, I wasn't fond of the locations. My body doesn't take traveling all too well to begin with, and the lack of luxury accommodations has never helped. For the first time I realized (again, I must be getting older and wiser - I hope) that one of the groups we are there to help are the homeless. People who go without. Why should our housing sites be anything above a step above poverty? I've always felt sorry for the churches, or where ever the housing site has been, that they don't have enough funds to do something as simple as paint a hallway. Sami continues to add the suggestion of allowing a group to come a day early or stay a day late - for free, in order to do some of the small tasks around the housing site. That is a great suggestion and I hope that CSM considers it. While we don't need five, or four or even three star accommodations, something as simple as removing peeling paint and cobwebs might help. It would at least show some respect for the place where we are sleeping. In the meantime, it is a roof over our heads.

Third, the walls continue to be broken down about how I perceive a homeless person. It could easily be you or me. How close is any one of us to being homeless? All it takes is a flood, a fire, an accident, etc for that to happen. While mental illness is one of the main causes of homelessness, who's to say one of us could easily find ourselves without a home?

The hospitality of even the homeless in Nashville gives me hope. This trip taught me more about communicating with someone than any of the others. Do you know how easy it is to ask someone who might be approaching you for money what their name is? Do you know how much that means to them? Nashville is a small enough city that we saw the same people at several different locations. I know God is working through them and our young adults each time we saw them and called them by name. Just because they are homeless doesn't mean they don't have a name. By all means, be safe, but try introducing yourself. Most people just want someone to listen.

Our Urban Exposure had lots of profound moments for me. One of them was while we were talking to Billy and he had pointed to his new friend on the bench. She seemed to have all of her possessions with her and Billy told us he would share the lunch we gave him with her. As Jen, Josh and Bernard talked to Billy, I watched as a well-dressed woman walked by the woman on the bench. The well-dressed woman appeared to be in a hurry, but when she saw the woman on the bench, the well-dressed woman stopped and dug through her purse until she found a sandwich. She spoke to the woman on the bench and the woman on the bench accepted the sandwich. "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat..." -Matthew 25:35 NIV. We also witnessed several business men and women walking through the park waving to others in the park who did not seem to be business men and women.

We also witnessed the proverb, "teach a man to fish" while we were walking throughout the city. We had an extra lunch to share with someone who was hungry. We had trouble finding someone who was hungry because one of the church's had provided a lunch that day. We ended up giving our extra lunch to Billy (we had asked three or four people before finding him) because he said he'd share with his friend, and because we wanted to. Later, we passed a man down on Broadway holding a sign, asking for food. Jen really wanted to share something with the man holding the sign, and I told her she could, but think about how difficult it had been for us to find someone who was hungry. This man was being lazy, he could have easily found a free meal. If gave him food, we were only enabling him. It was tough love. It always has been for me.

We talked to a police officer who kindly answered our questions and even elaborated on Billy's citation for sleeping under a bridge (it is illegal for a homeless person to lie down, it means they are establishing a place to stay - or something like that, he used police jargon).

We had a man walk out of his way to show us how to get to the library (erm, once we followed his directions, we were standing at the corner with one of the men we had seen at a couple of the sites and we asked him where the library was. He pointed at the building right in front of us and said, "here it is!" we were very amused, we almost walked right past it).

The very first man we spoke to had many opinions and he was well spoken as he shared them with us. One of the things he said is something I take umbrage with, he told us that everyone (Denver, Miami, Detroit) ships their homeless to Nashville, because in no other city can you get three meals a day. Erm, except in Grand Rapids. If you are hungry, you can find at least three places that will serve you three meals a day. And in New York City, there are places, and in Chicago and in all of the cities where CSM is located; I am sure that there are places you can go to get food, at least once a day. You will not go hungry anywhere, you just have to ask.

Maybe that's it. Maybe it's pride. Maybe it's those suffering from mental illness. We're not going to solve all the problems, but we need to continue to serve others. I hope as you've read about this trip and this experience that it has created an urge in you to do something. That something can be as small as buying one extra can of soup at the grocery store and giving it to the local food bank. It can be donating your gently used clothing to the Goodwill or Salvation Army (stop. Look at that. Shruti realized for the first time that the word Salvation is part of the name).

Volunteer. Go big; join a prison ministry, join a mission team. Write a check. If you're not hands-on, you don't have to do hands-on work. It's best when you get out of your comfort zone and help others, but take baby steps if you've never done something like this before. We kept talking about our Spiritual Gifts. Find out what yours are. I'm going to try to teach a class this spring. I would love to teach it again in the fall.

Make a difference. Be awesome.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Home Again

This post will not be long. I am tired. I can't type, my fingers aren't working well with my brain. We left Nashville around 7:45am-ish. Just as Sami was turning onto I-65, I saw the sign for Opryland. Sami and I talked about stopping there on the way home, since we didn't get to see it before we checked in on Sunday. I quick typed it into the GPS and we took a short drive back (since it was of course the opposite direction we were headed when I saw the sign). We didn't tell the group where we were going, and it was amusing. It's called the Gaylord Opryland Hotel (Resort/Convention Center/etc) so when I said something about Gaylord, Jen asked if I was going to Gaylord, as in Michigan. I said yes, Sami said no. Then Jen asked something else, and I said no and Sami said yes. It was of course hilarious to us, because we were, well who we are. After much hysterical laughing in the front two seats we managed to get to Opryland and only when we were at the stoplight turning into the Hotel did Amelia finally figure out where we were going. We drove around to the "back" main entrance (if you've been there, you understand, if you haven't I can't explain it any clearer right now) and everyone hopped out and they ran inside to take pictures. I stayed in the van in case the Valet wanted/needed us to move and because I've been inside before (most recently in 2008, click here to read about that). I called Bill to let him know we were on the way, via a side trip, and to find out what the weather was actually doing (what, you think I depend on the tv/internet???). While I was talking to him, I wondered if I should have gone inside, because the chances of them getting lost were pretty high. Eventually they found their way out only to exclaim that they took a couple hundred photos. We drove around to the Grand Ole Opry which is still fenced off for construction. We did park Big Red in front of the signs on the fence (there are pictures) so she wasn't left out. Then we finally got back on the road.

We made a pee/coffee refill stop in Kentucky. Then we stopped again for a gas/Ale 8 stop right before crossing over into Indiana (there's a picture of the Indiana state line... oh wait, it's a photo of "A" which was pretty funny since Jen is Canadian and she told us a Canadian joke about the "eh"... maybe she'll share it under the comments if you're so lucky).

We stopped for lunch somewhere in southern Indiana... near Seymour I think. Then when we got onto I-465 in Indianapolis, Sami called McDonald's for the Shamrock shake search. At least she didn't have to repeat herself. The first one she called had them. Too bad it was in Kokomo. We weren't going that way. So we waited until we got further north and she called another one. They had them!!! We stopped and Jen, Amelia, Sami, John and myself all had one. It was green-ilicious or mint-ilicious.

We didn't stop again until Battle Creek for gas and a pee (I'm sorry I keep saying it like that, it's from Spamalot; right before intermission the narrator -or Arthur, is singing about take a break, take a pee, be back for Act three...).

There were lots of seat changes and amusing/entertaining things. Of course I can't think of a single one. We retold all the funny stories we just spent the last four days experiencing. Sami took a photo of the Focus Fox and sent it to Shruti, we found out that Sami can only go for so long before losing it, the GPS couldn't tell us how long it would take us to get to L.A. or Hawaii and Nashville doesn't have a good theme song (at least not one we could think of or knew).

I hope you enjoyed hearing about our mission trip. I can't wait for the photos. I don't know how I'll post them. If I'll be selective and put them in a separate post (most likely), add the link to see them all on facebook (not as likely) or if I'll go back and insert them into these posts (least likely). Can you tell we took a survey?

I cannot wait to crawl into bed. Good night.

Thursday leaving Nashville

Wednesday was a simple day. It wasn't short, and there weren't multiple site visits. We had devotions at 8am and we talked about Ash Wednesday. Then we headed out to Feed the Children. We opened boxes so that when the next group comes this weekend, the assembly line will go faster. We started at 9am and didn't stop until noon. The other volunteers turned on some music so there was plenty of dancing and that made time go by faster (there are pictures).

We stopped by the housing site before heading downtown for our "Urban Exposure". We split up into two groups. Sami had Coleen, Stephanie, John and Amelia. I had Josh, Bernard and Jen. We had a list of things to do and people to find. We were supposed to talk to someone who was selling the Contributor, a tourist, and someone who is native to Nashville. We had questions to ask them about homelessness in Nashville. We also had to find a musician on Broadway or 2nd Avenue. We also had to find a symbol that we thought represented Nashville. We also had to go to the Library, once there we had to use the public computers and get online. We had to find three facts about homelessness in Nashville. We also had to go to the highest floor of the downtown parking garage, find a police officer, go to the park across from the Library and find someone that we could share our lunch with (each group packed an extra lunch). Our group met a lot of interesting people who were very willing to share something. Our group completed every task. They were awesome, Team Awesome. We were even back five minutes early.

We came back to the housing site and watched a dvd on Race and Culture. It was very interesting and thought provoking. We finished our discussion and had ten minutes before we needed to leave for the Ash Wednesday Service. We went back to Community Care for the service. It was one of the best Ash Wednesday services I have ever been to! The culmination of the words spoken, the people in attendance and our group made it wonderful. The Bible verses were all the ones we used in Devotions, that was amazing.

From there we went to a Greek restaurant and had another delicious dinner. Shruti had falafel and she shared some with each of us. We had chicken, lamb, rice and something that looked like parsley (a lot of it). There was some dressing and pitas, so I ate mine by piling it all into the center of the pita and I topped it with the dressing. Then Shruti surprised Sami and me with Baklava. More deliciousness.

We came back to the housing site, we set of the alarm, and while I write this the group is playing Apples to Apples. It's crazy. (This is when you can tell it's late at night, it's 11:22pm as I write this.) I encouraged everyone to comment and add their stories.

And now it's to share what is going on it the Apples to Apples game. No one can remember how to say Shruti's name, no one can pay attention long enough to remember the green card, and no one is remembering to hand over their red card. I'm amused.

Thursday we will be leaving at 7am (local time) to drive home.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday in Nashville

I have another post for Wednesday, I wrote it before we left. It's for Ash Wednesday. I'll save it because of course I have plenty to write about Tuesday.

First we met the Salvation Army truck to help serve breakfast. I can't tell you where because I have no idea, just that it was in front of another mission that didn't open until 9am. There was another group that came with the S.A. from Vanderbilt University. We all helped serve coffee, hot chocolate, bottled water and granola bars. We had arrived a few minutes before the truck, so we already had the chance to talk with some of the people waiting for breakfast. At one point I looked around and all of the volunteers were talking with someone there for breakfast. A couple of people pulled up in a Cadillac and one of the gentleman, Billy, shared that he didn't think that was very fair that they got breakfast. I wasn't quite sure what to say, so I told him our ride was the big red van. He said he preferred the van, and I said, well they both steer about the same while mimicking the "play" in the steering wheel. He laughed and that got his mind off of the "fancy" car. Later, we as a group talked about this and came to the realization that maybe they bought the car used, or when things were going well for them and that was all they had left and they were living out of it. You never know the situation and you just can't judge a book by its cover.

From there we headed over to Community Care, a UMC that serves lunch and breakfast different days of the week. They have shower and laundry facilities. Some of the group cleaned up outside, some cleaned the shelves in the pantry, some packed care packages, some helped prepare lunch and Sami and I buffed the Sanctuary floors. There are pictures, they will be added. Shruti (our host, you pronounce her name Shroo-thee) came and got Sami and me for lunch, we prayed and then ate. There was a little scuffle at our table with two of the guests which really got people riled up. This facility does not tolerate foul language, abuse, etc and Toi (the director, pronounced Toy) means business - tough love. The situation was diffused (the man was escorted outside). Sami was ready to talk to the woman about the abuse and I was quite scared. I could tell Jen and Bernard were too, so I stood up, asked Sami if she was okay to stay and Bernard, Jen and I went back to the Sanctuary and put the chairs back. When we went back upstairs we found out that the woman was removed as well because her water bottle was not full of water. It's sad, but this place cares about their volunteers, that was evidenced by the other guests who were shocked at the behavior of these two people. They were all ready to protect us and themselves. We are blessed that it did not get more out of control. It was an amazing experience all around and that event taught us all something new (different for each of us).

From there we headed to The Next Door, a facility that helps women coming out of incarceration and addiction type situations. We started off in their meditation room, it had two bookcases full of books and Bibles. Another group had already purged the romance novels. Our job was to purge again to get only enough books to fit on one bookcase. As we started that process, Mary (one of the Directors) would come and ask for volunteers to help do other things. I think some people went and cleaned, I stayed with the books because I love to organize and purge (only other peoples stuff, not necessarily my own). Amelia and I weeded our way through them all and set aside a couple boxes full of books to be donated. It was at that point that I realized the shelves were on upside down! A couple of the guys came back and carried the one bookshelf out to the dumpster. Then they carried the other one upstairs (two flights) to a different room. We took all the books up on a cart (via the elevator) and Bernard, Josh, Amelia and I put them all back on the shelves in a more visually appealing way. When we were finished we actually had space left, so we spotted a cute green vase on top of the refrigerator so I grabbed it and put it on the shelf. It looked so great! (again, there are pictures - but they're all on Sami's camera).

Then we went and cleaned the staircase. That's an interesting job. Don't stand below someone on the stairs when that person has a bucket of water and paper towels.

We all gathered in the dinning room and one of the residents came in and shared her story. She was amazing and at the very end she told us that she has never shared that with anyone outside of the Next Door community. It was hard to not cry, but she was very honest and open. After she finished, they asked a couple of us to help in the kitchen with Miss Cynthia (a former resident who now returns to volunteer and mentor), the rest went and finished cleaning. Stephanie and I helped cook their dinner which was pancakes, bacon and eggs. It smelled so good. Miss Cynthia poured the first batch of pancakes and I flipped. Then Stephanie managed to take over and we had a good system. Every single pancake was perfect and golden. While we finished with dinner, the rest of the group sat down to hand write individual letters to the residents. Stephanie and I felt bad because we didn't get to help do that, then we asked if we could write one for Miss Cynthia. I told Stephanie I wasn't sure what to write and she started dictating. I started writing, then we realized we should add a verse. I said we should try to find one about food. There were books that the rest of the group were using, so we looked in one and couldn't find anything. Bernard brought a couple more books over to us, so we started looking in the index. The book I had didn't have an index, so I just started flipping through pages. I found the perfect verse, it talked about God and preparing and serving food in his name. It came from Deuteronomy, but I don't remember where. It was amazing.

We headed for dinner at an Indian restaurant, Sitar. Shruti is Indian and she told Sami and me that she loves this restaurant, so we were pretty excited. It was amazing. We had naan (think pita bread-ish), and chicken curry, two other kinds of chicken, lamb, vegetables and rice. It was delicious. We headed back to the church and got all the way back here and decided we needed dessert since it's Fat Tuesday and Sami didn't get her paczki. Shruti told us about the Pink Berry, so that's where we all wanted to go. It was all the way back, literally blocks from Sitar and we drove all the way back. It was very amusing. Pink Berry has all natural, organic frozen yogurt. You can pick as many toppings as you like for no extra charge!! It was fantastic. Then we came back here to debrief which ended up taking two hours. It's not 11:38am, we're getting up early to have devotions and 8:00am.

Wednesday's schedule:
Devotions at 8m
Feed the Children (they're all in school so we'll be packing emergency food boxes or hygiene boxes)
Urban Exposure (we are sent out into the city to do a small list of things)
Greek food for dinner
Ash Wednesday Service at Community Care

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday in Nashville

I realized I'm doing this a little backwards. I'm writing about the day before it happens. How do I fix that? Write about the day that night and post it the next day. So I am writing this post on Monday night, but I'll post it Tuesday morning (now) before we leave. We have an early start Tuesday (today), so I don't want to leave you hanging. Now that I know the password to get online, it should make my life easier.

We were pioneers on Monday. First, we went to the Campus for Human Development and did a foot washing. We washed about 24 feet. The patrons are welcomed into the campus for the day. It's one of the few day shelters. There is so much going on there, it was a bit overwhelming when we got the tour at the end of our work time. The one thing that stuck out most in my mind is the tree (a sculpture) in their lobby. The trunk of the tree was metal. All of the leaves were clay and had names written on each one. The leaves represented the people from this community who have passed away. They are people too and deserve to be remembered. The Campus helps people from Vets to those who have addictions. They have permanent housing in their brand new building.

We ate lunch in the car as we headed over to the next site, Siloam Family Health Center. This is a Christian medical facility for those who are uninsured. Our sole purpose was to go throughout the center praying. We were given a tour by the very energetic Kate. She explained the vision and the purpose. They have over 60 different languages being spoken and a couple hundred volunteers between the medical volunteers, translators, prayer volunteers and Board of Trustees. There are 32 paid staff. We watched a short video that gave us a better insight into the people that are being served. Kate also told us that if anyone was uncomfortable praying that we could help file in the front desk area.

I started walking around and I was praying for all the different people who come from different countries, I walked to the nurses station and I was praying there, then I remembered that Kate had asked for someone to help file. Since I am pretty organized, I felt like I could do that. I found Kate and she took me to the front office where Anna gave me a four page list of files to pull for patients who will be coming back for a referral. I had pulled a couple and realized I should be praying for each of them as I pulled them. Once I started doing that, each time I went to search for a name, the first folder I touched would be the name I was looking for.

Then we headed went to the store and bought the ingredients to make tacos for our last stop, Open Table. This is a parsonage that turned into housing for homeless. It is currently housing sixteen persons. The young adults cooked and prepared dinner. A few of the residents joined us. We had fellowship and enjoyed dinner. It was delicious. We had ice cream with chocolate sauce and butterscotch sauce for dessert.

We came back to the church and debriefed.

I will give you the schedule for Tuesday and then will post about it for tomorrow (if that's not too confusing).

Devotions are at 7:30a, led by me! We will head over to the Salvation Army to fellowship with homeless people as they eat breakfast. Then we'll head to another day shelter to prepare and serve lunch. The last thing we'll be doing is going to The Next Door which is a ministry that helps women coming out of crisis situations. We won't be working directly with the women, we'll be packing care packages or something like that.

The thing we need to remember is to be F.A.T. (for Jesus)

We added the "for Jesus". We can be fat for Jesus. Isn't that great?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday in Nashville

We did everything I said we were going to, yesterday. We even got a stop in at Krystal so I could have my Krystal chick and corn pup. Fantastic!! The Brentwood UMC had the Mercer College choir visiting, they started the service with the most beautiful song I have ever heard. It sounded like they were singing in Latin or it was like an African song. It was wonderful.

We started with CSM (Center for Student Missions) last evening. We ate dinner at a local Southern food restaurant. We could pick one meat and two sides. I had Country Fried Steak, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. It was delicious. Then we took a prayer tour of the city.

I can't really describe the prayer tour. We go to different parts of the city and hear the most recent statistics about the different cultures that make up the city. We also stop at various places and pray. We saw a couple of the sites where we'll be working this week. Probably the most interesting part was when we stopped in front of the brand new Titans stadium. Across the street is the Juvenile Center. What a contrast, with so many similarities. She asked where we thought Jesus would be, and most of us said or thought in front of the Juvenile Center. She said that he would be in the middle. We then got out and laid down on the cold concrete sidewalk to pray for the youth. That was an exercise. Cars drove by. We were uncomfortable (we were supposed to lay there until we felt comfortable). It was cold. It was hard. That is how a homeless person feels every night they sleep out on the street.

Today we're going to do foot washing, work at a soup kitchen for lunch, go to a new Family Health Center and make dinner and eat with a homeless community who live in a parsonage. There will be 17 people that we feed.

I have to go charge my computer now, finish my breakfast, make my lunch and get ready for the devotions. Pray for us!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday in Nashville

We made it to Nashville yesterday by 3:30pm, local time. We stopped at three McDonald's in search for Shamrock Shakes, and Sami called three. We struck out each and every time. It's our mission to find one because Jen has never had one. Now we must find her one. Dreams come true on these trips. (We're even going to stop and buy some Ale 8 for Tricia on our way back home, as long as we remember!)

In fact, we stopped and saw my sister on our way! I forgot an umbrella and since we were passing right by the exit where the mall is, and we needed a pee break, we stopped! It was fun to surprise her. And I bought an umbrella. I may not need it now, but it was raining the entire way down.

We went to a place called Wild Horses for dinner. It's downtown and is a three-story restaurant/bar. No drinking, of course, on this trip. But there was line dancing. And lots of photos with all the wild horses posed around the restaurant. Of course I didn't have my camera. I found it this morning, so I'll take photos today.

We stayed with Sami's friend, Erin. She's an Associate Congregational Care Pastor at a mega-church here in Nashville. We're going to one of their services this morning. Then we'll have lunch and take a trolley tour. If it's not raining we'll walk around before heading over to our CSM site.

I'm hoping for a Krystal chick and corn pup. (I'll explain later, I'm in a small rush to get ready to leave for church and get the can packed).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

On the road again

That's what Bill said to me when we woke up this morning. I was still half asleep to ask him what he meant. I haven't been anywhere. He just got back home. But then I realized he must have meant my trip last week with Sami to see Heather.

This is not my favorite time of the morning. I like 4am just fine when it passes me by in my sleep. But I don't enjoy seeing it on the clock and not being able to roll over and go back to sleep. Especially when I was awake at 2am because my body insisted I had slept through my alarm. Stupid internal alarm clock.

Here I am, ready to go. We're headed for Nashville. I'm going to go get coffee.

Friday, March 4, 2011

101 things to blog about

Okay, it's probably not 101 things, but there are many.

First, let me start with the best news of the day. I paid off my student loan!!! Woo Hoo!!! What a relief. I actually paid it off five months early. It wasn't a huge loan. I was fortunate enough to have a generous Grandma who paid for almost my entire schooling. When my dad lost his job at the end of my junior year, we went and took out the student loan for my senior year (yes, I'm one of those people who finished college in four years) to help pay for books and tuition (the one privilege of being a R.A. was the paid-for room and meal plan). So the amount owed was never outrageous. I did defer it my first year out of college because I didn't have a job. Finally, ten years after that, and a minute amount paid off each month, we had enough to pay the rest off. Yay! Cheers!!

Second, it's time to make maple syrup. I know this for two reasons. 1) the Cool Cats went to Blandford Nature Center and tapped the Maple trees on Wednesday. They actually make maple syrup as a class!! 2) My car is covered in "tree pee" from the Maple tree that hovers over our driveway. My glove was sticky after I opened the car door this morning.

Third, technology does not like me. Bill calls me technology poison. I must be. Twice I have sent emails to Cate and she has not received them. They are in my sent folder with a time stamp. Which I can only assume means they were sent. How can I second guess my sent folder? But she never got them. I resend them and she gets them. How many other emails am I sending that aren't going through?? Then yesterday, when I got home from my Board meeting, I checked my cell phone for messages. Bill had sent me a couple of texts, as I was texting back one came through that I swear said something about check your fb Zoe needs you to send a message to Chandra. It was from Bill. When I asked him about it, he had no idea what I was talking about. When I look through my text messages, this message is not there. Did I imagine it? Is Matt Damon's new movie reality? Then, at 10:30p my phone beeped. It was a voicemail. My phone didn't ring. I listened to it. It was one of the Board Members telling me that she wasn't going to make it to the meeting. She called and left it at 3:57p. I checked my call history and there are no missed calls. I never heard my phone ring. And why did the voicemail come through at 10:30p? It's all so weird.

Fourth, I have worn my pedometer all week. I thought it was time for a pedometer update. Since Monday I have walked 27,018 steps. That's 11.5 miles. Whoa. I mall-walked Monday with Bill and went Wednesday and today by myself. I really hope we can get outside soon.

The last thing (see it was only four, although it may feel like 101) is that I'll be on the College Spring Break trip (I'm a chaperon) tomorrow through Thursday. We're headed to Nashville, yee haw! I am taking my laptop so that I can do yoga. I do not know if there will be access to the internet. If there is, I will post every day. If there is not, I will at least write up a post for each day. Then when I get back to the 21st century I will post all of them. Hopefully there will be pictures to add. Until next time, whenever that will be.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Saving the food world, one kitchen at a time.

I have a meeting tonight and I decided to make a few snacks to take with me. I baked cookies last night and this morning I made walnut & cheese grapes. I know that sounds interesting and it is. It's blue cheese and cream cheese blended with heavy cream. Then you take red seedless grapes and coat them with this cheese mixture. Then you roll them in a walnut/sugar/parsley mixture. It was a sticky mess, but I tried one and they taste really good. They're chilling in the fridge like happy little grapes until my meeting. I think once they're chilled they'll be even better.

What happened when I went to use my brand new food processor was the problem. I dumped the ingredients in, put the lid on, plugged it in (I keep forgetting that part all the times I've used it before and when it doesn't work, I've panicked! Then I realize I haven't plugged it in, this is very important for the next part of my story) and pushed the button.

Nothing happened. I looked at the plug in the outlet to make sure I plugged it in, and there it was. Plugged in. I had used the hand-mixer earlier, so I knew the outlet hadn't tripped. I tried everything. I took the lid off, took the blade out, put the blade back in, put the lid back on. Still nothing. I even unplugged it and moved it to another outlet just to be sure. Nope, nothing.

By this point I'm not very happy. I have to make these stupid grapes for my meeting tonight. With hormonal tears in my eyes; *sigh* I washed the beaters and pulled the hand-mixer back out. I blended it that way. It mostly worked, the blue cheese didn't soften the way it was supposed to so that didn't blend in so much. But I sort of smashed it together and assembled the grapes. As I mentioned I tried one, and it seems to have worked.

Now back to the food processor. There's a 1-800 number on the bottom, so I called it. Sherry (or Sherrie, or Cheri) was very nice. She got the model number and then said let's walk through some troubleshooting. At this point I'm willing to try anything. She tells me to take it all apart. Then she tells me to push this little black button. It works. She tells me to put it all back together. It doesn't work. Start over. Take everything off. Put the base on. Push the part that pushed the little black button. It works. Put the lid on, but take out the plunger part of the lid. I do that and then push the little plunger thingy back in (I can't find the manual to look up what it's actually called, so it's the plunger thingy) and I hear a click. And it works. Ah Ha! I say. My husband washed it last, so I'll blame him!

Now, to any normal person this might sound like I'm saying he is a moron. I am not. I am pointing out that my husband does things like wash the dishes. And he puts them away. And he was kind enough to have washed this the last time I used it. When I told him this, he said, "Good. You'll have to show me how to do it, so I get it right." See, we learn from each other.

At any rate the food processor works. I'll give a big shout out to Cuisinart and their kind, helpful Hotline assistants who know what they're talking about and didn't make me feel like an idiot. They're saving men and women all over the world one kitchen at a time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

blah, blah, blog

Are you bored yet? Have I asked you that already?

I realized I missed my "bloggiversary". It turned four on February 5th. I went back and read my very first post. It is not worthy of linking back to it. If you are curious, you can go read it, but it's pretty simple. Basic. I've grown a lot since then. At least in my blogging and my writing. It helps when one reads more. I've started to find my own voice. Not that I didn't have one before; (oh my goodness, do you know me?) I just started out with a different purpose.

I have a lot of thoughts floating around, I just haven't had time to really sit down and write them out. Or when I do sit down, I forget all the good ideas. See? This is why I need post-its. I just need the cat to stop eating them.

I'm glad you keep coming back and reading my blog. It helps motivate me, knowing I have an actual audience. And don't worry, there are only nine more months left of my blogging every day goal.

ps: the title is actually something Bill came up with. He thinks we should start a blog together and call it "Blah, Blah, Blog". I like the idea. It would be fun. But now that he started his new job, we have to see how his schedule goes. Maybe it will happen at some point. For now I'm stealing it for the title of this post.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

the first of March

Yay! It's March 1st. This means spring is officially twenty days away, the days are getting longer and soon signs of life in the flower beds will start to peek up. Actually, it's sunny enough that when I get the mail, I bet I'll see some buds already.

More importantly it is the day Jersey Junction opens for the season. Even though I want to go there every year for my birthday, we haven't ever done that. They close for January and February, which means today is their first day of being open in 2011. I am excited.

I stopped on my way home from the store this morning. I tried a new flavor: Chocolate Volcano. It was chocolate ice cream with ribbons of chocolate ganache and chunks of chocolate cake. It was good! I liked it.

My favorite flavor that they have had (made and named especially for them by Hudsonville ice cream) is Jersey Express. It's chocolate ice cream with peppermint and chunks of fudge. Oh it's delicious and my favorite.

Here are some fun facts about Jersey Junction (if you want more, come and visit and we can go there, you can read all of them on their menu):

Jersey Junction is named for the Jersey cow which supposedly gives the best milk for ice cream.

The original owners were Chris Van Allsburg's parents (he's the author of Polar Express). They have a train inside that was signed by him. It's been under new ownership for the past couple of years and they have done a good job keeping things similar.

The sad news is that prices went up. Bill (or Skylar) and I could go there for under $3. Now it's $2.03/single scoop with tax that brings it to $2.15. As Bill pointed out we can still go there for under $5. It's not the end of the world. I guess not. And it's still cheaper then the medium Shamrock Shake.