Saturday, December 30, 2006

Big City Travels

Catching up...Our trip to New York was magical... We have to thank my uncle Erik and his friends, Howard and Gilette for their generosity. Howard helped us out with all the restaraunt recommendations and we were also introduced to a wonderful woman, Gilette,with whom we stayed in her wonderful guest quarters. We went on our first night in the city to a wonderful Italian meal at a neighborhood restaraunt on the Upper East Side. Overall, we enjoyed some of the best New York has to offer-- great food, good conversation and a warm crowd of people.
On the new day we walked the city seeing all the holiday sights including those in the windows at famous stores. My husband is wonderful to travel with as he has no unrealistic goals for seeing all the sights, but rather wants to enjoy the moment and the scene around him. We enjoyed lunch at Dean & Deluca, relishing their hot soups and sandwiches to sustain us through our special day. We decided in the fall that this would be an early celebration of our first anniversary--and what could be better than ice skating in Rockafeller Center and then going to dinner off of Madison Avenue?
We skated around as dusk was falling and then untied them to hurry uptown to change for dinner. We had reservations at my uncle's recommendation at a little elegant place called Alto. We enjoyed a wonderful four course meal of inventive dishes (there's another story there..but it will have to wait) including an appetizer, pasta, meat and fish, and finished off with dessert. It was definitely a meal to remember and the nicest place I've ever dined at. But I must confess it was the company that won my full attention.... We ended the evening with a trip to Times Square to finish our Midtown Tour. We know it is one of many trips we will take to New York City-- we already have a list of the things we would love to enjoy together like museums, Ruebens, more chocolates, and of course, shows. We'll try again next year!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

We just wanted to wish our dear friends and family Merry Christmas and God's blessings on your celebrations! As we enjoy our other family here in Maryland, we have realized God's goodness to give us TWO wonderful families. We are enjoying ourselves in the midst of all the flurry of activities and seeing many old friends. Travis and I also enjoyed our pre-anniversary trip in New York City....more details to come! Much love, Travis & Nora Shank

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Last Morning

Last morning at the Ranch before we head East. The laundry is running, the cappacino has reached the bottom of the cup and the rooster is crowing. The sun is rising here into a cloudy sky and the cool weather of fall has finally reached us, changing all the deciduous trees into bright yellow and oranges around us.

We will miss all of these things while we are gone. But the anticipation of Christmas cheer with our other family, the Jansens brings joy to our hearts. As I lay in bed this morning anticipating our return there, I thought of the little things I love about my family: my dad's chuckle when he laughs, my mom's tiny hug, my sister's ferocious activity, Brett's happy-go-lucky piano jingles, and Peter's famous slouch and zippy sarcasm. There are many other things Travis and I look forward to, like conversations without phones or interruptions and memories to be revisited from our times together out East. We also look forward to all the new memories we want to make.

As I sit here facing the slowly dying grassy backyard and listen to my ornery rooster going at it again, I rejoice in my heart that He has blessed me with so much. Travis and I are the recipients of so much in this one year-- jobs, new job for Travis, generous family and friends, new friends whom we've built our lives with, a spacious house furnished to comfort, many chickens, many stories and much laughter. One of our greatest joys has been that we are more in love with eachother than we were one year ago. As we depart we realize that we head to a place where we were married. It stirs up the expected nostalgia, but it also makes us realize how much we've changed and grown in our first year of marriage. We are so grateful for all God has given us. It is certainly true that God has crowned the year with overflowing bounty.

And to top it all off... my two hens-- old faithful Tina and her daughter-- are laying again. We're counting these eggs in our very full basket.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Walking Wonders

Lately Travis and I have been going on power walks either at night or in the morning. He doesn't like to run as much and yet we like to workout together. So, a compromise is reached in the speed of our accomplishment over the same distance I would run. We have had some interesting occurences as of late...
The other morning we were rounding the loop on the other side of Sossaman and started come down on the east side of the road. All of the sudden, I looked over and I saw a horned steer on the west side.

Now, tons of our neighbors have steer in their backyards. This is not an unusual sight. But this time, I couldn't tell if this cow, who was facing right at me like the ones below in the photo, was behind the fence or in front of the fence. So I asked my husband Travis: "Which side of the fence is that cow on?" He answered me:"This side". So we chased the steer off the side of the road over to its owner's house, and went and knocked on their door to let them know their cattle were running about during rush hour traffic. They weren't home. Just as we were about to leave, because we couldn't find any open gates, someone pulled over in a white truck.

She was a neighbor girl and apparently did what everone does: CALL DOUG.
He's like the neighborhood grandpa around here for Rancho Jardines. He crossed the street (he lives right across from the owners) and knew how to open their gates and chased the cattle around.

Good thing we cityfolk didn't have to herd the cattle. You should have seen Travis' face when I was going around the steer to find the fence hole. They are big animals for sure. But not something a good ol' Dutch farmer girl would be scare of, right? The only question that puzzles me is why I don't like little pets but find my heart tender towards large stinky steer and cattle???? Maybe they can tell you.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Good Day

For those of you who were wondering-- Travis scored almost exactly what he wanted to on the GMAT (the graduate admissions test). He passed!! Yeah! 6 weeks of studying is done!
Travis got two paychecks from his new job. I got paid.
And we got a suprise $200 refund in the mail from the State of Arizona.
Makes our celebration dinner all the more amazing.

Monday, December 04, 2006


The other word for it is: SCORCHED. No. I didn't get burned by sun tanning here in Arizona. Our weather has been colder than the East Coast. But I did a little "experience", shall we say, I had yesterday.
Some people think I don't have kitchen distasters. Well, yesterday wasn't my best day. After a late lunch, I put some beans I had been soaking to cook on the stove. I went and sat down at the TV to watch a little for a rest and promptly forgot them. Travis asked me about an hour later: "Honey, are these supposed to be boiling?" And I assumed he meant "simmering" but told him to crack the lid off so they didn't spill over.
But then about another hour later, I started to smell something. At first I thought it was, well, let's just say, an "odor". Was it the trash? Was it Travis? Was it me??? I couldn't figure out what the unique odor was.
And then Travis said: "Were you "refrying" these beans here on the stove?" OOPS. Guess it wasn't me that was the beans that had absorbed all the water and were cooking, or shall we say, burning on the stove. The pan is still soaking on the stove.
Then later after we went on a walk, I put some cookies in the oven. Forgot those too. Good thing they were on my baking stone. They didn't burn (usually I always burn one batch of baking items). They were just Travis' favorite: CRUNCHY.
As you can tell, there is no room for culinary superiority here. I burn things with the best of them.
(thanks to for the picture representing culinary excellence in Arizona from another random blogger...)

After those fiascos, I'm off to repair myself at the spa all day. No joke; we're going to the Willow Stream Spa all day. More details later.

Friday, December 01, 2006


This post is to commemorate many who have gone Europe. Jordan leaves today on his 17 day extraveganza through many countries and cities with his best friend Jordan. No, you read that right. The "Jordans" will be backpacking through Europe together-- riding the trains, navigating the countryside and sleeping in hostels. We can't wait to hear how the "Ratio" went... and he knows what we sisters were talking about. Or, he'll soon learn. We wish him luck and clean laundry. And we promise to keep the J's posted on the important news through our blog. This picture is from Thanksgiving where he "suprised" me by using the disposable camera I've had since Christina's wedding and was trying to finish.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Home Updates

It's that time of year again... Today is the last day of November. Where has the month gone?By the way, have you seen my house lately? We've been decorating up a storm. Even though we are going to DC for Christmas, I knew that it would be incredibly depressing to arrive back in sunny Phoenix without a shred of Christmas cheer to welcome us home. So I went to work. Here's a picture of from our recent Christmas decorating... I still have a few more projects, like stockings for Travis and myself for over the fireplace and I am finishing my drapes in the dining room. But we decided to set out a festive table by the fireplace to make it homey and festive. Maybe it will help sell the house...

The decorating story begins with an early morning Saturday. All the other stores were quiet. They hadn't even begun their preparation for post-Thanksgiving madness. Their inventory was quietly awaiting normal Saturday morning shoppers strolling casually through their lanes.
I was not.
I was at Goodwill's 50% off Saturday Sale. People line up at 6:30 in the morning for a store opening at 7:00. Now, we're not talking regular shoppers. We're talking a different clientele. What would draw me you might ask? 50% off all the Christmas decorations. But I also found a couple hidden treasures like a replica of another Van Gogh that I reframed and appointed to the middle bathroom with the other Van Gogh's. I just need one more print to complete the collection.
I am a new home-dweller (not quite an owner) and this being my first holiday preparation season away from the resources my parents and I had gathered for years, I needed some supplies. What better than to get fake greenery for $1.00 here and .50 cents there? I brought all my treasures home along with a new filing cabinet for Travis for, get this, $26 dollars. That's what my brother, Peter, would call "chump change". I agree.

Can you find the hidden picture within a picture?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Reflections

One of the other reasons to give thanks is for the unexpected blessings I received this week. One of those was my new family. This was my first holiday away from my family and it turned out being very special, very interesting and wonderfully "home".

I had previously met my husband's extended family at his grandmother's 80th birthday party last spring. But this time we got to visit. Very different meaning, especially when you're Dutch. Everyone has their ethnicities. I have a cultural ethnicity that was imparted to me early on from my father's mother, Cobie. Through the years I was educated as a granddaughter in what it meant to be Dutch, such as the following:
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness. Really. It is not okay to skip the dusting.
  • Gardening is aerobic exercise.
  • Expensive shoes are essential. Clogs were only the beginning.

And last but not least, one of the most important lessons in Dutch heritage I received was through food traditions.

My Oma always participated in my Grandmother's (my mother's mother) thanksgiving. They were great friends and since my Oma expected our presence at Christmas, her children were free to do their other family responsibilities on this holiday. So our traditions for Thanksgiving strengthened around the Dahl holiday table with Dutch treats.

When I anticipated Thanksgiving, I was suddenly filled with dread, thinking thoughts like, "What if there is box stuffing? What if we don't have fresh cranberry relish? What if there isn't any Pumpkin Chiffon Pie?".... the thoughts multiplied...and fear was brought down like the house of cards that it is.

Aunt Bette (should I say Tante?) brought the EXACT same cranberry relish my Oma made every Thanksgiving that I can remember. Then Aunt Jean and I swapped tips on making bunket, a Dutch pastry. And we spent hours playing "Dutch Bingo". It is a game where you talk about your relatives and find out how you are connected or related among the "Dutchies". Aunt Bette Bosma knew my Uncle Bruce when he was in Michigan teaching. That was 25 years ago. I was so blessed to meet my grandmother-in-law's brothers and sisters. They are all in their spry young 80s; one just remarried and was wonderfully affectionate with his new bride, Jean, and the others told wonderful stories of their hiking adventures. What an inspiration and joy to be around such wonderful people.

Not only does this show that you can never go far without finding a kindred spirit, but that I couldn't go far without finding someone else who was Dutch. No matter how far I've moved, there have been many new friends and, now, family that I find reason to be grateful for. Even for simple things like fresh cranberry relish brings joy to my heart.

(Ps. I have a huge stash of the relish in my fridge that I made tonight so that my mother, sister and I can carry on the tradition of eating it straight through from Thanksgiving to Christmas, when we make our second batch....)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pie and Projects

Are you still working on your pie? I hope everyone is very thankful for the past week. Especially the leftovers. I know I am. I have not only feasted but had a wonderful rest with less work, my husband home, and my brother visiting for the week.

I had come up with a "Brother-Do" list before Brett came out ...and we tackled most all of it. Thanks to him my closet doors now work and my cabinet pulls are all tight again.

We also did some creating... Brett worked on frames for my birthday present. Brothers at their best--Peter provided the credit card at Home Depot and Brett the skills.

In the meantime, I finished a long-overdue project called "curtains". Brett asked, "Why didn't you do some of this stuff when you moved in?" Yeah. Thanks for the reminder. But curtains are expensive and time consuming. The one pictured below is courtesy of the great Uncle who provided fabric extraordinaire. I found some other perfect grey velveteen at (shhhh....don't tell anyone) Goodwill that offsets my dining room perfectly. More on those wonderful discoveries later....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


It's time!
My rooster crowed for me at 5:30 am sharp ....
It was his first vocalization as a full-grown male...
he must have got the news...I am one year older...
The year has gone by so fast. Here is the Scripture that I have read for most of my life; it graced my highschool announcement and it has been in a frame in my room for almost ten years now. Nana gave it to me in a card last night at the Shank family night, where we started off the celebration early. It was my meditation for this morning and it spoke great faith into my heart as a prayer for the coming year. I am praying for wholeness in my heart and life as I walk out the good plans God has for me and my husband.
Jeremiah 29:10-14
"For thus says the Lord... I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you..."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Family Visits

My brother Peter
My mom and dad

The girls Me & my grandmother

Here are recent pictures of the family from a weekend trip to DC. There are no pictures of Brett, because he was busy studying chemistry; and, he is going to be here for a visit TODAY! I've got my "honey-do-list" of projects for him to work on around the house. And we are hopefully going to build some bookshelves. We'll keep you posted on the progress... We'll see how much two little workerbees can accomplish in a few days. The list is growing as we speak! But I'm ready for it... I hope he is!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pictures as Art?

This post is in honor of Aunt Nel... don't these look like pointilism? They are the epitome of "home" visions and warm fall feelings for me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Meet the Author

Does anyone have any favorite authors? How do you find good books to read? This age of television and internet being more popular than any other medium means there is little time invested into the reading of great literature. My mother turned me into an early, avid reader when I was 4 1/2 by tempting me with words from The Little House on the Prairie. She couldn't read as fast as I wanted to know what happened to Laura, so before she had finished it, I had picked it up enough to read it on my own. Now, it's all suddenly making sense. This is probably why I've always wanted to have a farm.

One of the best resources I have found for compelling fiction and inspiring writing is a catalog I get in the mail, Bas Bleu. My grandmother, an avid reader, refered to me this amazing wealth of the written word. Everytime this catalog comes in the mail I pour through it for new recommendation. When I was younger, my mother would take us to the library and we would inevitably try to check out more than the maximum number of books. The habit has stayed with me, and was one of the first things I did when I moved. Now, I just tap into my library online to find which books they own. (This is obviously the cheapest way to get great fiction.)

My most recent book was Madeliene L'Engle's Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage. I was so inspired by this book because of her deep faith and creativity as a woman and a writer. I met Madeleine when I was about 12 when my mother read out-loud to us A Wrinkle In Time. Her books quickly became favorites and ever since I have re-read that series several times. Since then, I have been fascinated by her novels, but never searched out her other material. Back when we frequented Montgomery Public Library, there was never anytime else in the children's section under that author's name. (You have to understand it is one of the highest volume libraries in the there was always a shortage of good books.) As an adult however I still like reading children's fiction and try to stay up by reading all the Newberry Award Winners.

To say the least, I was deeply touched by the story of my favorite author's marriage and her faith in the face of the death of her husband. But I was also, I must confess, just as excited when the front page listed about 20 other books by her that I have never read!

I have decided that one of my new life goals is to first read all of her books, and then collect them all!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Welcome Home, Part Two

My friends Jon and Jenni lost their son, Chase, last week after only four short hours of life. We believe Jesus welcomed Chase home with open arms.
Jon and Jenni are heroic. They challenged current perspectives by carrying the baby to term. Then under what can be the crushing grief of losing a child, they throw a different kind of hope in our face. They challenge us on their blog not to waste Chase's life. People often use this phrase, but they set the bar even higher. They remind us that neither should we waste death. This throws us right back to the foot of the cross where the power of the gospel can completely change our egocentristic perspective. Who, except Jesus, would have the power to change not only life but redeem death?
Paul deeply knew the value of this lesson. He writes in 2 Timothy 1:8-14

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

What rich truth! What hope! It is because of the mercy of God and through his great Love that we believe He redeems and restores that which, without His death, would merely be suffering without purpose.

Yet grief is a real part of the process, where we learn to take the suffering we experience and recognize God's purpose despite our pain. He draws us close. He "stores our tears in a bottle". "Surely He has borne our sorrows." Different seasons of grief, beginning early on in my life, at age 2 with my Opa's death, have carved deep channels into my heart, avenues of grace in grief that have made me face how God can still be good despite loss. I grieved over his death, only to see my uncle die and leave behind five cousins. My mother's miscarriages and then my other grandfather's death at first made me question God's good sovereignty.

Now I see how they were preparing me to face other trials and suffering. They taught me early on that suffering is to be expected in this life. But here's the secret: The Gospel makes all the difference. Because I know that real and lasting joy is not in this life, but in the life to come. I love what I read the other day about grief and this process of acceptance. Madeleine L'Engle writes:

"Now I am setting out into the unknown. It will take me a long while to work through the grief. There are no shortcuts;it has to be gone through...A couple of years ago a friend called me from her hospital bed, demanding, "Madeleine, do you believe everything that you have written in your books?"
I said yes then. It is still yes today.

But grief still has to be worked through. It is like walking through water. Sometimes there are little waves lapping about my feet. Sometimes there is an enormous breaker that knocks me down. Sometimes there is a sudden and fierce squall. But I know that many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.

from Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage

White's Ferry Crossing, Maryland

Monday, November 13, 2006

Painting a Picture: Images of Home

Everyone has an image in their mind of what a home should look like. Madeleine L'Engle says about her home in Connecticut:
"There is mystery to all love. Why does this one man so move me? Why does this a small corner of our planet make me feel that I am home? We live in an uprooted society. During the long years of my father's dying my mother was uprooted. When he died she returened to her roots, to a Southern town where almost everybody was kin, where her childhood friends still lived. I used to love to read Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins, her story of a wonderfully warm and variegated New England family, and Mother told me that her Southern family was very much like that. Almost all of her friends and playmates were cousins. One of the best things about this present, difficult summer is that I have felt rooted. I am in the house that Hugh and I have loved for forty years. During the brief times that Hugh has been home, rather than in the hospital, I have dug in the garden; sometimes he has been up to sitting in a garden chair watching as I have planted, weeded, plunging my hands into the rich earth. Amazingly, the vegetables have flourished, despite the inevitable neglect. The forty years of our marriage are deeply rooted in Crosswicks.
In a chest of drawers in the attic are children's clothes which are still passed
around as needed, especially the beautiful little smocked dresses my mother gave
to my daughters. Even the pots and pans are part of the rootedness. This double boiler was given me early in our marriage by my beloved Mrs. O, who loved me without qualification until she died in her midnineties, and whose love I believe is still with me. This old-fashioned rice cooker came from my grandmother's kitchen in the South. This rebound Bible belonged to my great-grandmother Madeleine L'Engle, after whom I am named; her hands turned and marked the pages I read; her tears spotted them. When I walk the dogs at night I walk on land that has been familiar under my feet for forty years. It may be because I was a city child, born and raised on the asphalt island of Manhattan, that the actual feel of grass, of earth, is something of which I am acutely, joyfully aware. Above me the stars are part of the rootedness, stars which are patterned in the sky in a particular way in this corner of the planet. I am blessed in being rooted with my family, with Bio and Laurie making their own roots in this house which is well over two hundred years old... Food is part of the rootedness, food and water. Our water comes from our own artesian well. We know, as much as can ben known nowadays, what we are drinking. Much of what we eat comes fromt he garden and the evening meal is a special part of the rootedness, when we linger at the table, lighting candles or oil lamps as the sky darkens. We have consciously eaten well this summer, knowing that this quiet time of relaxation and pleasure is important, for we are weary, the body/spirit worn by all that has been happening. We eat the first young corn, which Hugh planted and now cnanot eat. Fix a platter of sliced tomatoes and green peppers, sprinkled with basil and chives. At night I go upstairs to a bed that is generations older than my marriage, a high four-poster bed in which Hugh and I have made love, and in which others before us have made love for more than two centuries. There is a good feeling to the bed, as there is to the house. Life has been lived in it fully. There are no residual auras of anger or frustration, but a sense of the ordinary problems of living worked out with love and laughter... A friend came by this afternoon to visit with Hugh and remarked that his unhappiness with the world of the yuppies is that their rootedness is only in money--money not as that whcih makes it possible for us to buy bread and milk and a roof over the head, but as a symbol of transitory vanities. Was he being too harsh? I'm not sure. But it reminded me that my own rootedness must be expressed in and through symbol and sacrament or it not rootedness at all. When I dig in the garden it is God's earth, given us to care for and noursih. It is all undergirded by the understanding of what "a goodly heritage" I have, and this gift is one I must honor in all that I do and all that I am."

Welcome Home

My dining room decorated for the fall.

After an intensely busy past month, I am finally home again.
This is my one day off after the West Women's Regional Conference before a full week of work again. Brett comes on Saturday(we can't wait, Brett!) and then comes Thanksgiving...then we have two weeks before we head back east again for the Christmas holidays.
But... I have a little catching up to do on the blogs. So this week is dedicated to the updates from this fall season.
Travis and I have a new morning schedule. We get up at 5:30 together, have devotions and prayer, then I get the computer for an hour while he works out. So, I am typing away on the couch while I hear the weight clinking and changing in the office. I am wrapped up in a quilt with the morning light behind me coming from my front window. The oatmeal in my bowl is half done and my coffee is probably cold. It's a beautiful fall day. The temperature last night probably reached the lower 40s (although I can't tell because I need a thermometer for outside...hint: my birthday and Christmas are around the corner!)
I am recently inspired from Isaiah 61 and Psalm 65 with their wonderful rich images of the fall time splendor that reflects the Designer:

Isaiah 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and raise to sprout up before all the nations.

Psalm 65:9-13 You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

There is so much bounty to give thanks for. All the details of our lives, the stories, the adventures are so rich with the provision of the Lord. I hope the stories from this week remind us all as we approach Thanksgiving, that in, through and about every event in our lives, God is working to reveal his great Splendor.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Hello from Maryland!
I am visiting my family in the beautiful fall season for my girl's weekend. Every year for the past 7 years? (we're not sure when we started) we've gone on a "shopping trip" to copy our dear friends, the Mahaney girls. However, we have discovered that we prefer to eat rather than to shop. When we first started, we went to the outlet mall down in Virginia called Potomac Mills. We only did that twice. Now, we go to Leesburg, Virginia, nose around in the antique shops (our favorite being the Dutch antique shop called Ekster), and then go to lunch at our favorite girl's weekend spot, called Lightfoot Restaurant (go to the sight if only to hear the great piano music.) We have had the same waiter for 6 years running, but this time we broke our streak... so we had to do without our favorite white haired waitor, Gus. Then we proceed to the outdoor, upscale outlets at Leesburg Premium Outlets, so that we don't suffer from mall-induced suffocation. I know that it's a plot, to get people de-oxygenated in malls, so that their defences and coginitive reasoning are less.
At the end of our day, we stood in line at a Starbucks booth, only to witness a hysterical event. A woman in front of us told her order to the international gentleman at the register; she said, "I'll have a triple skim macchiato". The gentleman got a confused look on his face and so she expounded, "It's three shots with skim foam, like a very dry cappacino". His friend, the barista, a very vocal New Jersey-like accent, piped in and said, "What is that?" She repeated herself. The gentleman then asked her, "What size would you like?" She said, "Its a double tall". He asked her "Would you like a tall?" She finally gave in and said to him that he could put it in whatever cup he would like. Then the barista tried to confirm the order, "That's three shots, right?" She agreed and then the gentleman asked her, "Is that a cappacino?" in order to ring it up. So then the barista and gentleman did their best to add the different components of her drink together to figure out how to ring it up. Then the barista asked this lady if she would like it with whole milk. She said very affectively (without emotion, while we were just dying laughing) "Skim milk". Then, my mom whispered to me "Could I come back there and make it for you?". She finally got her drink and my mom stood up bravely to the counter and said, "I would like the same thing that lady just had but with two shots decaf and one shot regular". Bravo, Mom. Way to have those preferences.
Last night we returned from our shopping expedition across the river, to settle in around the fire as a family for a late dinner. We nixed all the popular restaurants one by one due to family preferences. Then we decided that we should made a classic Thai favorite, since there aren't too many good Thai places around here that we frequent, called pad thai. It was delicious and the company even better.
We got to talking about preferences, which is one of my father's endearing qualities. We told them the coffee story, and then my mom piped in with one of her iniquisitive moments. "I wonder if people use the same stall when they go to the bathroom. I would like to do a study and see if people use the same stall every time." We laughed at her and asked her what the application of this research would prove. Then an anonymous member of my family said, "Of course, because some of the units at work spray. And some of them have the toliet paper on the right, instead of the left." Wow. The world never ceases to suprise us.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


No...not the candy. M&M's as they are called by doctors, stand for "Morbidity and Mortality". Typically MDs discuss what they did wrong or why patients died in their care. If you didn't know Complications by A. Gawande. For me, the stand for: Mistakes and Mishaps. Here's our most recent two.
Travis and I are currently serving at Life 101 (aka Alpha) at our church. On Tuesday, our first meeting (round two this year) went great! We served food to about 110 people and there were many more guests than last time. We are so grateful for Rich's leadership, as he prophetically "guessed" how many people we should do food for. Last time we had about seventy...this time we ordered for 120. Right on Rich!
At one point in the evening at several of us tried to make some more coffee. Ever heard the expression, "Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup"? Our version is the following:

Question: How many professionals does it take to make coffee?
Answer: An engineer to calculate the appropriate concentration of grounds per pot, a dietitian to analyze the caloric content per cup, a economist to evaluate the cost efficiency of the venture, and a secretary to remind the other three that 2 quarts of water will not fit in to a 1 quart pot.
Here's to you Andrea!

Another mishap occured last night when I tried to finish off my fall soup for dinner. We got back from our run and I went to blend our Cauliflower Thyme Soup with Rye Croutons and Pecans. I debated before I started, "Should I use the blender or the food processor?" But the recipes send to blend batches. But since I made only 1/3 of the recipe, I figured I could do it all at once. The soup was hot so I put a dishcloth on top of the blender to keep the lid from popping off (which it has done previously). The stopper ended up falling into the soup due to the vacuum the heat created and the blade crushed the plastic into tiny little pieces. So after some attempt at straining the soup, we scrapped it and had the croutons on a salad and a bowl of Butternut Squash soup from the box and some grilled cheese sandwiches.
Every person has to have their share of M&M's....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

By popular request

Here's the recipe for Italian Meatloaf by popular request.
My mom says to stop bugging her for my recipes girls :) By the way, many of the recipes I either use or try are from the following magazines and resources:
Magazines ~ Food and Wine (subscribe), Cook's Illustrated (online) and Gourmet. This month I borrowed Janis' Sunset magazine from which I loved the Filet Mignon Wraps *I used sirloin steaks* with Pear Onion Relish and Bleu cheese dressing, which I made for our picnic on Friday night.
Cookbooks ~ for everything I don't know I turn to The Joy of Cooking. When I couldn't call my mom at 9pm her time for her Italian Meatloaf recipe, I turned to that book for guidance as to how many eggs, etc. It has all the basics, all the cool recipes deconstructed. I have another ton of cookbooks, but I will try and reference them from now on.
The Recipe~ Italian Meatloaf

Monday, October 16, 2006

What's in a NAME?

Janis just bought a new purse. She finally found a black leather purse that she liked with the correct number of pockets, the right size for her mini laptop, etc... and so she called me to report. We have had many conversations about a certain brand of purses that I am in love with. The conversation went like this:
"I just bought a Perlina purse. Isn't that the brand you like, Nora?"
" mean, La Perla"
"No, its not La Perla"
"Wait, is it La Furla"
"No, its Perlina""
"O whoops, the one I like is called Furla"
Neither of us could get it right; intentional tounge twisters meant to decieve and confuse the public.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Introduction to Fall

Fall in love all over again with cooler temperatures and warmer meals.
Last week I was inspired after our trip to San Diego to break out the sweaters and soups.

Menus for the week of October 2
Monday - Provencal Vegetable Soup with White Beans, Macaroni and Potato
Served with Pistou, and French Bread

Tuesday- Red Leaf Salad with Grilled Chicken Sausage

Wednesday- Leftover Soup

Thursday- Pumpkin Spice BelgainWaffles with Cinnamon Apples, Syrup and Plain Yogurt

Friday- Italian Meatloaf with Sun Dried Tomatoes
Black Pepper Mashed Potatoes
Green Herb Salad with Radishes and Pita Croutons

Saturday- Stuffed Jamaican Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Chops with Ham and Celery Root
Sweet Potato Wedges
Slaw with Green Applesand Cilantro

Sunday- Homemade Pepperoni and Green Pepper and Onion Pizza

Friday, September 29, 2006

Steals and Deals, revisited

I bought this nightstand on craigstlist for $30 dollars! Not that it is bragging or anything but I LOVE that site! It is big but beautiful and looks great with our bed. Now for the dresser....

Mission Accomplished

It is by His grace alone and in His strength alone that we are able to complete any work.--I can do all things who strengthens me. I am meditating on God's infinite wisdom and power this morning as I prepare for battle against anxiety, worry and fear as I think about many different circumstances.
There is an excellent chapter at the end of Providence that talks about the practical application of understanding what God is doing. It says :

"It is here supposed to be the Christian's great duty, under the
apprehensions of approaching troubles, to resign his will to God's and quietly commit the events and their outcome to Him, whatever they may prove. Thus did David in the like case and circumstances: 'Carry back the ark of God into the city;if I shall find favour int he eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back again, and show me both it and his habitation: But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee: behold here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him' 2 Sam 15.25-26. O lovely and truly Christian attitude! As much as to say...Go return with the ark to its place; thought I have not the symbol, yet I hope I shall have the real presence of God with me in this sad journey. How He will dispose the events of this sad and doubtful providence I know not. Either I shall return again to Jerusalem or I shall not. If I do, then I shall see it again and enjoy the Lord in His ordinances there. If I do not, then I shall go to that place where there is no need or use of those things. And either way it will be well for me. I am content to refer all to the divine pleasure an dommit the issue, be it whatever it will, to the Lord. And until our hearts come to the like resolve, we can have no peace within. 'Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established' Prov 16.3. By works he means not only every enterprise and business we undertake, but every puzzling, intricate and doubtful event we fear. These being once committed by an act of faith and our wills resigned to His, besides the comfort we shall have in the issue, we shall have the present advantages of a well-composed and peaceful spirit."

'When I am afraid, I put my trust in you O God'
There is so much in flux right now and so many needs. But as I have wrestled with a soul not at rest I realize that these circumstances and "puzzling" providences are a means by which God desires to reveal more of Himself to me. As I completed this quilt, I realize that it is not just the work I undertook, but the work of God in prayer. My hope is not in my work, no matter how good they are, but in the mercy of God. He is established His will and the goodness of His providences for me and others and will do all I cannot.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sunday Reflections

Jon Payne preached an excellent sermon on Sunday asking us to consider the flip side of the previous week's message on "Don't Worry, Trust God" from Luke 12- Are we ready for the Master's return as His servants? If faithfulness is "doing the tasks God has called you to using the tools He has supplied", are you ready? Are you being faithful?
I wanted to ask myself these questions in regards to my marriage. I am not quite at the year mark and it acts as a good reminder to ask myself if I am ready and if I am am being faithful. There has been much grace and growth already in our marriage; but, the Scriptures are so good at getting at an ever-deeper layer to point to our need for more grace.
Since the greatest need for grace in my marriage is to help me learn to respect and revere my husband, taking on a perspective of grace towards our sanctification process, I thought I would list this quote my mom sent me. If we truly do want to emulate Christ, then we would act in a manner towards our husbands as Christ did to His Father. We would wait upon their return and be malleable to doing things that please and honor them.
John Chrysostom ("golden-mouthed"), bishop of Constantinople (from 398) and "Spurgeon" of the late fourth and early fifth century, known for his deep respect for Christian women (as witnessed, for instance, in his beautiful letter to Olympias) has this to say about Christian wives both loving and respecting their husbands in Ephesians 5:33 -

"How, one may say, is there to be love when there is respect? Love is most powerfully present when accompanied by respect. For what she loves she also reveres, and what she reveres she also loves. She reveres him as the head and loves him as a member of the whole body. God’s purpose in ordering marriage is peace. One takes the husband’s role, one takes the wife’s role, one in guiding, one in supporting. If both had the very same roles, there would be no peace. The house is not rightly governed when all have precisely the same roles. There must be a differentiation of roles under a single head." (Homily on Ephesians 20:5.33)

It is good for my soul to answer the question: "Am I ready to serve another master besides myself, being ready and faithful to serve and honor the Lord by serving my husband?"
Jon reminded us that this evaluation doesn't start with comparison to others. He also warned us to be wary of a proud response in either self-righteousness towards others or a self-pitying response that lacks hope that anyone can change. We have to start with the gospel truth-- Jesus Christ died for sinners like me and empowers them to be like Christ through his grace. We can do all things through Christ who strengthen us. There is always more grace than we can arrange or find in ourselves.


Jon Payne preached an excellent sermon on Sunday asking us to consider the flip side of the previous week's message on "Don't Worry, Trust God" from Luke 12- Are we ready for the Master's return as His servants? If faithfulness is "doing the tasks God has called you to using the tools He has supplied", are you ready? Are you being faithful?
I wanted to ask myself these questions in regards to my marriage. I am not quite at the year mark and it acts as a good reminder to ask myself if I am ready and if I am am being faithful. There has been much grace and growth already in our marriage; but, the Scriptures are so good at getting at an ever-deeper layer to point to our need for more grace.
Since the greatest need for grace in my marriage is to help me learn to respect and revere my husband, taking on a perspective of grace towards our sanctification process, I thought I would list this quote my mom sent me. If we truly do want to emulate Christ, then we would act in a manner towards our husbands as Christ did to His Father. We would wait upon their return and be malleable to doing things that please and honor them.
John Chrysostom ("golden-mouthed"), bishop of Constantinople (from 398) and "Spurgeon" of the late fourth and early fifth century, known for his deep respect for Christian women (as witnessed, for instance, in his beautiful letter to Olympias) has this to say about Christian wives both loving and respecting their husbands in Ephesians 5:33 -

"How, one may say, is there to be love when there is respect? Love is most powerfully present when accompanied by respect. For what she loves she also reveres, and what she reveres she also loves. She reveres him as the head and loves him as a member of the whole body. God’s purpose in ordering marriage is peace. One takes the husband’s role, one takes the wife’s role, one in guiding, one in supporting. If both had the very same roles, there would be no peace. The house is not rightly governed when all have precisely the same roles. There must be a differentiation of roles under a single head." (Homily on Ephesians 20:5.33)

It is good for my soul to answer the question: "Am I ready to serve another master besides myself, being faithful and ready to serve and honor my Lord and my husband?"

Jon reminded us that our evaluation doesn't start with comparison to others or look like a response of pride in either self-righteousness towards others or in doubt that God can change us-- it starts with applying the gospel truth: Christ empowers us to do all things through him who gives us strength. And there is always more grace than we could ever anticipate.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Laughs

What could be better than to start off the week with a chuckle at our expense?
Here's the recent report on our combined blondness.
A few months back, Travis was called over to a customer's home who was concerned that his new grill wasn't working. This elderly gentleman could get his grill to work. Travis, who tries to provide excellent customer service, told him he would come over and look at it.
Now the truth is that Travis doesn't know any more about the grill's operations he installs than the homeowners themselves. But Travis did his homework and called the BBQ sales guy and got instructions that the battery can sometimes misfunction in the starter. When Travis got there, he turned on all the burners and tried to start up the grill;,click,click,click, didn't work for him either. So he took out his AA battery and reinstalled it into the starter box. Then he proceeded to press the starter button again. He leans over the grill to see if the burners light up...Click,click,click...BOOM
The way Travis describes it was that his hair immediately flattened against his scalp towards the sky as the cloud of gas exploded around him.
All of this while the homeowner was watching him.
Travis said to the man, "Well, I think it works now." he said with confidence.
Now my story is slightly more embarresing: on Saturday I went shopping at a large collection of "offbrand" stores like Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, etc. On the way in, I saw an Einsteins Bagel place and stopped for coffee first which was in a strip mall in front of all the anchor stores in the same parking lot.. Vanilla Hazelnut coffee from Einsteins is my favorite coffee. Travis and I talked on the phone while I drank my coffee. We got into this serious discussion which lasted almost an hour. Then three hours later after I had shopped all the stores, I went to return to my car. I headed in the direction I thought I had parked in. I headed to Ross, which was the first store I went to. But as I went up and down the aisles, I couldn't find my car. So I backtracked and thought I had just missed it. I started to walk up and down every aisle, hoping I had just forgotten which store I had started at. But I couldn't find it.
You know how when you start to panic, you get less and less reasonable? It was 2:30, I hadn't eaten lunch after spinning class, it was 98 degrees in the parking lot, and my legs were starting to really hurt. I walked the entire parking lot once. Then again. And my cell phone was dead. But I powered it up for one more call and called Travis in a panic. He said, "What do you want me to do honey? Do you want me to come and get you?" I said "I don't know. I can't find it! I don't know what to do"
I saw middle-aged women exit some store and I approached her and started to tell her my story and appeal for help. Then I saw a security car pass by right at that moment, so I excused myself and flagged him down. He was kind enough to drive me again through the parking lot, telling me that they do see cars stolen from that lot pretty often. He gave me some water and he said we would have to look through all the lots before we called the police. That wasn't very comforting. Then as the water started to rehydrate my brain cells, when the car didn't appear, I said, "You know, the last resort is that I left my car at the coffee shop and don't even remember walking over here". We turned the corner and there it was, right in the front door parking spot in front of Einsteins....
We think our combined brilliance is really going to benfit our children.

Monday, September 18, 2006


After a failed attempt at fabric selection for the backing and borders, I found one I like! Alivia, I hope you like soft flannel. I didn't know anything about what fabrics are "read" as "lights" and "darks"... all these new terms that make sense when you are a novice trying your hand at a project.
We now have a fully assembled, but unfinished quilt on our couch.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Chicken anyone?

When I came home on Friday, another tragedy had occured. Almost all the chickens had been slaughtered by the dogs again. We irrigated and the ground got soft enough for them to dig under the fence. None that I could see survived. But then Saturday morning, I get up and look outside and who do I see being chased around the backyard by the dogs again? Tina. The survivor. I was so upset by the carnage in the yard, I made my dear manly man clean it up. The owner of the dogs is going to pay us something. Travis told him we'd invested $300 dollars. I don't know about that, but the pain and suffering alone is worth it. They've killed 20 chickens in 8 months. That's alot of chicken. I called Becky and she asked if we wanted to come over for dinner. Matt said in the background, "We're having chicken!" That made me laugh despite my despair.
This morning Tina was still alive and well. Obviously she performs well under pressure because she laid 2 eggs overnight. Crazy hen. And then 5 of her offspring must have inherited some wherewithall from their mother, because they showed up in the coop. Let's put it this way: when Matt told me last night he tried to get me a chick, I told him I have no desire to get more chickens until I can control the perimeter and the sex of every chicken I raise. Small scale production from now on.

Monday, September 11, 2006


9/11. Today marks the five-year anniversary of that day filled with disaster and death. Five years ago. We all knew where we were. Five years ago I was a sophomore in college, waiting to leave for class when the planes hit the Twin Towers. Five years ago; blocks of time that make me think about the time in our life. The moments, the days and the years are speeding up and flying past.
Job 7:7 says, "Remember that my life is but a breath..." When I think over five years, they seem like a breath. Birthdays are similar to anniversaries. Anniversaries commemorate events where birthdays are supposed to commemorate time. When I realize that my upcoming birthday is closer to 30 than it was to 20, I know time is gone and youth is on its way out. It produces a smaller, personal terror when your birthday reminds you that your time is a breath.
Today I am grateful that five years nor twenty-six years it isn't the span of my days or the number of them. God knows them them all. More importantly, I am overwhelmed at gratitude that this memorable date for our country has more life in it than death. This date is another anniversary for me--the anniversary of my conversion. Today isn't about five years since 9/11/01, but twenty years since 9/11/86. This week I want to recount not just five years of safety from terrorism, but twenty years of God's saving grace.
Each day this week I am meditating on a different aspect of God's Providence: today I am grateful for my health. All the illnesses, all the colds, the injuries--they have all been temporary. My body is breaking down slowly, but I have my health. In light of those around me with leukemia, I am particularly undone by God's mercy. I spent this morning thanking God for my health while praying for the healing of my friend's daughter, Alivia and for my friend Amy who is in relapse. A woman in our church Melinda also has leukemia and we are praying for her healing as well; she has four children and a wonderful husband Sam.
My project has been prayer. And a quilt for Alivia. Here's the progress Emily!
I finished resizing all the pieces to be the same (all except one worked) and have stitched them together for the top. I don't know how to sew a quilt, but I am learning. As I pray for patience as I sew, I also pray that God would use all our prayers together to provide a comforting, peaceful covering over our dear friends.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dietitians Taste Reality

A "fitting" title my husband says. For those of you trying to still "fit" into your bathing suits, guess what? It's FALL! No more bathing suits. No more shorts. Like ESPN's great ad, "Think about what best... Who's going to win the Heisman, or legumes and zucchini?" This dietitian returned from a long day at work and was craving something...but as I catalogued the inventory of my fridge, I was not satisfied. I could not create any thing close to tempting. Over the thirty minutes between my car and my couch, there was an empty stomach. And an active mind. And The Native NewYorker. Let's get real here: dietitians don't go to places who are known for their homemade potato chips. I also dislike beef; the smell makes me nauseated.If you know me though, there is a crack in the legume and zucchini facade: potato chips. Over the weekend, I was also craving beef. I made burgers and pie, true to the holiday weekend. But the beef smelled horrible once cooked. So I ate pie. The reality was that tonight I was just craving something hot and easy. So I said to myself, "I'll eat 1/2 a burger and save the rest for Travis". But once it was cut in half, half was gone. I wasn't full. Wasn't even close. So I finished it. All of it. I bit into the reality of real 100% Angus beef burger and ate it. This dietitian loves reality.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Checking off the list

Ever get to a point when you're older but still really want to try something new or get better at something? Such was my Thursday evening spent: trying to perfect something I never got in my childhoood. Now at 25, it was slightly more daring.
We're house-sitting at the Zieglers and they have a pool. And they have a diving board. It's been tempting me since I got here. It's short and low, not so springy. It is a bold reminder of my childhood, my previous failures and now a test: Age vs. remaining athleticism. I may have conquered the fear to learn new things, but do I still have the strength and agility? Do I still have enough will to throw myself into the air? I know I will leap off into a body of water that will catch me. But it has caught me before in failure, which only adds to the sting of defeat.
Up, up, up. Test the spring. Step, down, up. Step, down, up. Hands are swinging. Pulse is racing. Back to the end. Now what do those dives look like? Rehearse in your mind every Olympic diving motion you can remember. Hesistate forward. Back up again. Step, step, down, UP... splash. Not so bad. Pull yourself out on the edge. Swim around again. This is like summers at Flower Hill pool with the Ward's or even that incident at five going off the high dive at Hillandale with Dad. Try again. Back up. Step, down, UP. Down. Surface. The feet came apart. How old am I??

Twenty times. Looking up helps. Looking down at the last moment works too. Throwing your bottom up in the air also helps. My attempts say more about me than my performance. At least now in the privacy of someone else's home at age 25 I can say I tried and succeeded. And it motivates me to try the rest of those new things. Two of them are off the adult list: ballet, check. Pike dive, check.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Working away

What are you working hard at today? Is it your child's bad attitude, or moving into a new house, or maybe the challenges of your marriage as our friends at Girltalk and Covenant Life are writing about? Right now I am sitting at my work on lunch break, waiting for my husband to rescue his wife from the woes of hypoglycemia. I have been working hard at providing nutrition support services to Chandler Regional Hospital all week for the dietitian that is on vacation.
It can be easy to become discouraged when I arrive home after a full day and a workout at the gym next door, to the added responsibilities of taking care of my home and husband. I also find myself saddened at the lives of my patients who are suffering. There have been many around me lately who are suffering. On Monday I broke down sobbing, realizing that these things touch me deeply-- my friend's baby with luekemia, a young friend coming home from a bone marrow transplant, a friend who lost a baby-- and all my elderly patients whose lives are ridden with disease. You can see the despair in their eyes and in their words. The sadness and despair started to creep into my heart, coloring the struggles I battle within my own life.
But through the counsel of friends, I am working hard at seeing God through these circumstances. Janis gave me a wonderful resource in Octavius Winslow's Morning Devotions. I thought I would share his perspective on both the "deep waters" of life and the struggles of work, whether it be spiritual work or physical labor:

To see one advancing in holiness; thirsting for God; the heart fixed in its solemn purpose of entire surrender; cultivating higher views; and aiming for a loftier standard; to behold him, perhaps, carving his way to his throne through mighty opposition, "fightings without; fears within;" striving for the mastery of some besetting sin; sometimes foiling and sometimes foiled; sometimes with the shout of victory on the lip, and sometimes with the painful consciousness of defeat bowing down the heart; yet still onward; the needle of the soul, with slow and tremulous, but true and certain movement, still pointing to its glorious attraction- God; faith that can never fail; and hope that can never die; and love that can never be quenched; hanging amid their warfare and in all their weakness upon the "nail fastened in a sure place"; how is Christ, our sanctification, glorified in such a saint! ~ August 24

In the light of this truth, cultivate loving and kindly views of God. Ever view Him, ever approach Him, and ever transact your soul's affairs with Him, in and through Jesus. He is the one Mediator between God and your soul. God your Father may now be leading you through deep and dark waters. His voice may sound roughly to you. His dim outline is, perhaps, all that you can see of Him. His face seems veiled and averted; yet deal with Him now in Christ, and all your hard thoughts, trembling fears, and unbelieving doubts shall vanish. In Jesus every perfection of God dissolves into grace and love. With your eye upon the cross, and looking at God through that cross, all the dark letters of His providence will in a moment become radiant with light and glory. That God, who has so revealed Himself in Jesus, must be love, all love, and nothing but love, even in the most dark, painful, and afflictive dealings with His beloved people! ~August 23

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Golden Oppurtunity

Imagine interview for a job you dreamed about when you were seventeen. This is what is going to happen to me tommorrow. I am going in for an interview to teach nutrition at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. Wealth and adventure await me. I'll let you know how it goes...


No there hasn't been any good reason for the silence over the web. I have been working clinical over the past week and then next week will be a full week of seeing patients, talking to cranky old men about not eating hamburgers and, generally speaking, saving the world from bad nutrition.
Here's a list of my favorite things from the past week or so:
~My Judiasm kick -- reading Chaim Potok's fabulous book on Hasidism, finishing The Covenant another book about current Jerusalem Jews and political unrest, and hearing our pastor speak on Pharisees and lawyers from Luke 11.
~Diving into my first Proust book and becoming enraptured with language.
~Thunderstorms with horizontal lightning across the skies and against a dark sky.
~Rain every day this week!
~My new found love for spinning classes at the YMCA and rap/R&B music that keeps me going.
~Homemade Spicy Garbanzo Beans in a Tomato sauce with Curry Lentils.

Monday, August 14, 2006

On topic

Since we're talking about "animals" and dinner club, I thought I would post an update on our chickens and other dinner club events.
We had irrigation this weekend, so the chickens were a little traumatized. Guess who called to remind me about irrigation? I am the delinquent on the block, so it's understandable that Doug called me to remind me of when we were scheduled. But he called my cell phone at 6:15 am on Friday morning--and, yes you saw that number correctly. It was 6:15 am. Got to love the guy's commitment to local irrigation. He also called to tell me that his wife's shoulder surgery went well. Good to know. At 6:15am.
So, the chickens get bent out of shape anyways from irrigation, but then they also were confused because Travis and I pulled up the garden stakes and fencing and placed it loosely around the chicken coop to give them some more security. Ideally, it would keep them in there, but I think my chickens are just free in spirit and heart. What am I supposed to do? They like grass.They'd rather be vegetarians. Here's a picture of the babies finding a cool spot in one of my pots next to the re-feathered Arthur.
I was also trying to trap them in so that I could show the chicks to Caedan and Drew when they came for dinner club . They weren't easily persuaded even after I ran around in the ankle deep water and mud for a half-hour in my pajamas before church trying to herd them across the water to the coop area. I need to do a little more work on the fencing before it will be useful and secure.
Speaking of dinner club, I forgot to post the beautiful results of Haley's "English" meal-- you have to see this impressive Beef Wellington. It deserves full honor...much more sophisticated than my grilled pizza and burgers. I could not have attempted this. Isn't it beautiful? Beef tenderloin, pastry....who wouldn't want to be a member of our dinner club? Haley is an impressive hostess, apparently a heritage of incredible hospitality from her mother.

Weekend Joys

Wonderful things happen here in the Monsoon season...Five minutes before five, I ran out the door with a bucket, scissors and jumped into my running car. Travis said from the back room, "Honey, they're supposed to be here in five minutes!" I knew it, but I had to do this one thing. They had been flagging my attention for weeks, but here was the perfect oppurtunity, even if it wasn't exactly the perfect timing. I drove down to the end of the road and leapt up the irrigation embankment. I pulled down stalks that had grown tall, defying the desert to grow closer to the sun, cutting the blossoms and filling my bucket.
Sunflowers are a miracle to my desert eyes, having never seen such prolific volunteers on the side of the road, except in France. I woke up this morning and the first thing I said was: "I love our friends. I love having flowers!"
We love our friends, because once again we hosted dinner club last night. This time was casual because we are awaiting Erin's new baby girl in the next two weeks.
There is nothing better than good food (grilled pizza and ice cream sundaes) and the close laughter of friends and then to wave them down the driveway in the dark, tucking in sleeping babies and sleepier parents (Becky). We are also grateful that we are getting to know eachother better than ever. We played a game that my friend Patricia made up and then another friend Mr. Kyung Lee developed further; Patricia used to name people and their personalities and identify them with animals, and Mr. Lee twisted it by "naming " what the person to your left would "name" themselves. We shall not reveal who is a an "otter", a "stallion" or a "finch". Even funnier was to see why there was such a thought. It was a moment to remember when onewife was named by someone else's husband the "camel".
Are you wondering what animal my new friends think of me as? Ahh...the priviledge of secrecy.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


What would everyone think if we named one of our sons "Marv"?
Travis and I fell into a fit of laughter tonight thinking about ridiculous names for our (yet to come...we're not pregnant) children.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fabulous cooking tip

Have you ever had the fabulous spaghetti squash? A squash that tastes like spaghetti without the calories of pasta? I had two of them from my food co-op and decided to cook them. So to the Joy of Cooking cookbook for directions (Because last time it turned into mush instead of strands)-- and they say to cook it in the microwave. All you do is pierce the skin a couple times with a knife, throw it into the microwave whole and 15 minutes later-- presto!!! You have to try it. Its too good to be true. Without heating up your oven you can have squash in 15 minutes! No pans!

Home Sweet Home

We're home from vacation! San Diego was wonderful and we had a great time with Travis' family on vacation. There is one thing we have to say to you San Diego weather snobs... I think we have you beat right now. This post is also for all of you suffering in the heat back East. Guess what our temperature is here? Right now outside in my backyard without the sun it is a cool 80 degrees. Almost cool enough to put a longsleeve shirt on. At least that's what we feel in comparison to the one-fifteens. And NO humidity. Did you get that? No humidity, folks. That's right-- you know what they say about the dry heat here? It's true. And I've never been more grateful for August in my life. The heat here breaks with the "monsoon season"; we get cloud cover as storms roll into the valley. They don't always provide rain, but the cool air rushes in over the mountain ranges and gives us some relief from the truely endless summer.
We are also rejoicing at all the "homes" that have been blessed with answered prayer. Rich Richardson gave a message a few Sunday's ago from Luke on "Seek, Ask, Knock", reminding us not to give up hope in a God who answers prayer. While on vacation, we found out that the Richardson's prayers were answered with the completed adoption of their new son, Luke. How apropos. Also-- our friends, Jon and Lory are expecting their first, which is an answer to prayer that she conceived. We also had news that our friend, Amy Wilhoite, has been cleared of cancer cells after several chemo treatments and bone marrow transplants. We are still in prayer for the healing of Alivia Haughery as she undergoes more treatment for what they now think is ALL. Other random answered prayers are my parents receiving a Steinway grand piano on loan from my great-uncle Teddy who moved away from Vermont to the Philippines-- just weeks after my Dad started praying for a new piano. And our other friends the (other) Richardson's just finally got a contract on their home, so that they can move into the single family one waiting for them. Yeah! A new neighbor near me!
Now we are encouraged by the answered prayers, but there are still many on our hearts here at the Ranch. We need prayer for our car troubles; God answered our prayers for a big month last month in order to clear away the honeymoon debt. But the money keeps rolling out the door as fast as it makes its way in. If you remember, we were sideswiped in San Diego in July, but now we are facing a speeding ticket on the way to San Diego this time; to top it all off, Travis was hit in the rental car two nights ago right before the body work was done on the Hyundai. Travis' computer is also dying, so once again, we are making major purchases. We are experiencing small trials in light of our friends, but they are inconveniences and make us cry out to the Lord to answer our prayers.We must be able to say, "O God we trust in you" despite our circumstances. In light of the gospel, we not only have access to a great and holy God, but we are living in light of His commitment to fulfill promises: "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" and from Habakkuk 2:3
"For still the vision awaits its appointed
time; it hastens to the end—it will
not lie. If it seems slow, wait for
it; it will surely come; it will not

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I took this picture in one of the little towns on the way to San Diego a few weeks...and the strong overhead light captured my eye. The old Dodge, the white iron gate. All seemed to belong to a different era. When we pulled off the highway, we saw a garage that said in '50's script "Harry and Son Garage". The signs were all worn and faded from the sun. It reminds me of another picture I took years ago in New York City; a girl sitting on an iron park chair with her feet propped up on an antiquated turquoise suitcase captured my attention and lens. She had a straw cowboy hat on (before they became popular as they are now) and she seemed not to care where she was going, just that she was there, in the present, in Bryant Park underneath the flickering shade of the leafy, summer trees. I love to imagine what the stories are from these places, and what makes these people who they are and how they got there. From this town, we also went in to a Mexican food cafe. The counter was long white Formica and the swirlable stools were fixed in the raised platform. As we attempted to use their bathroom, I felt like I was invading another story. All along the way in your life you will encounter these stories. Its just a matter of "reading" them-- that is with your imagination Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 14, 2006

For the Pancake Man

Just as I was about to lose hope of ever getting any eggs from my chickens, the most unlikely candidate redeemed the flock. Ruth (or Naomi...I can never tell who was who; but the one who didn't die) has laid a very small brown egg every day. So we added them to one of our favorite carb dinners... Chocolate Chip Banana Walnut Pancakes. The skill is probably one of the best things my Dad ever added to my cooking repertoire. I can remember being really little and leaning over the pancake batter on Saturday mornings. We don't have "Washington Pancake Mix" here in Phoenix but we are making do with a multi-grain pancake mix from Henry's. And I learned from the master about the exact right consistency for the mix....just enough oil, just enough water and just enough eggs. And of course, we had to make pancake initials...another Jansen tradition. A "T" for Travis. But this post is really for you Dad since you (so discretely hinted :) wanted a little spot on the blog.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Out of the mouth of babes.

I heard a very unusual comment yesterday at camp between two 11-year old black girls. Being at an inner-city camp full of vibrant, talkative youth, you get to observe some very "colorful" commentary during the day. I was talking to the kids about whole-grain cereals for breakfast and asked them what they ate that morning. One black girl raised her hand and started off, "Well, in the moar-nin' I eat..." One of her friends sitting right next to her interrupted with: "Girl, you can' say it like that! Its MORN-NING! Morn- ning," she said wagging her head. I asked if the first girl was from the south, and the second one volunteered, "No, she ain't from the south. I'm from Atlanta. She's from Texas." The girl tried it again: "In the moarn-nin' I eat..." She didn't get very far again. Everyone started snickering again. Someone from the back said, "Thas the way that black people talk!" in their o-so-perfect Latin American accent. The second girl said, "Don' be distrespectin' black people. That's the way we talk." They'll make fun of one another brutally, but they don't let anyone else do it. It's the same situation no matter whether its black, Hispanic (I saw two 16-year-olds do the same thing on the playground earlier in the day.) Isn't it amazing to think that at eleven, they already have such a strong cultural identity and loyalty? They certainly know their differences.
Don't we all defend our differences though? In marriage I am learning that there are strong differences, and strong preferences we hold onto strongly. Don't you find it easy to say, "Well, if you had just said it that way..." or "Why can't you just accept this?" I think its all a desire we have to crave independence and to guard our self. I just wish we all knew our similarities as well as we knew the things that were not the same. Its a lesson we all need, to lay aside our differences and embrace one another as who God made us, different, unique, but joined together for His good purposes.

Monday, July 10, 2006


We were off to San Diego together again...with a little more successful early morning beginning than our last trip. Except our alarm never went off. And we awoke to the sound of the doorbell at 4:45am. But we still got on the road earlier than before. We were off to the city of beautiful weather, cool breezes, beaches, friends, sunshine without heat....did I mention that it's less hot there? But we aren't "grumbling and complaining" after listening to the excellent messages by Mark Mullery on unbelief...we're just stating the facts of our time together at "Together '06".
Adventures on the way there included many, many bathroom breaks in unfriendly places. Caravaning together can provide its challenges with a Suburban full of different people with different capacities, if you know what I mean, and a Santa Fe equally as requiring. Some of our stops included "El Cajon" which fondly became known as "the pit"-- a city that you couldn't get out of; and a little town off of the I-8 where we happened upon an unfriendly resturant with a sign that said "Restrooms are for paying customers only. Cash only. No credit cards accepted. Don't even ask." Of course Jordan and Seth had forgotten their wallets; and Clay and Travis don't carry cash. No luck there.

The weekend was for the purpose of being "together". It is a weekend conference made of 4 different churches out West who join to hear the word of God preached and spend time together in a beautiful place. A little history-- the conference for the first year was called Together '05 and this year it was Together '06....the question is: how do you find a conference which name changes every year? So one of the San Diego pastor's gave it a new, improved identity: Together Whatever. We also had the fabulous oppurtunity of meeting and greeting old friends like the Lauterbach's and our friends the Whites, who moved last year across the country from Covenant Life to Grace Church in San Diego. We also made better friends with Clay and Haley Richardson who kindly agreed to share the ride, and the gas money, with us. We throughly enjoyed our time with them on our drives to and forth from Phoenix.
Together is the best of all conferences. It has friends, adventures, messages, awesome worship...and then in the afternoon, instead of sweating it out playing sports, you watch the ocean lap up to your feet at the beach. It made all the difference to get there early, check in, get settled, then go straight to the beach. We also took another afternoon to go with a group of friends to Coronado Island to go again. Except this time our challenge wasn't finding lunch. (The day before, our only problem was to find a "cheap" lunch, of which we quickly found out there are very few places along the coastline that meet this qualification). On the way back from the beach, while we were driving on the highway, a car side-swiped our brand new Santa Fe. It was a car full of Marines, who had probably missed their exit and turned before looking next to them. They never admitted their fault but when the state patrol came, they changed their story and said that we veered into them. Oppurtunities to trust the Lord. We have fun confidence that God is working all things together for His good. And Mark Mullery preached an amazing sermon on unbelief versus faith. This is another reason to exercise faith as defined so well by Mark: "Faith is believing confidantly that God will fulfill His promises".

Friday, June 30, 2006

Road Trip Vignettes

We started off on the right foot-- prayer, coffee-- good combination, right? A guaranteed knock-out one, two punch for spiritual success and intelligent execution. We forgot our passports. Acutal departure time: 9:22a. A little later than anticipated. We then stopped in Tuscon for another cup of coffee. O well.
On another note, we had fabulous conversation and no conflicts, which was another small victory for us, considering that our last roadtrip we "discussed issues" for 6 hours straight on the way home from San Diego about a year ago... we were grateful for the difference a year makes.

Welcome to Texas! Our trip ended after a drive through the cloudy dessert to greater heights than we imagined. Welcome to Texas means Welcome to the Alcantars. We enjoyed fabulous hospitality from our old acquaintances, now new friends who live on the west side of El Paso on the side of the mountain. The view was amazing, especially at night where Travis and I looked out over our own private balcony over the El Paso and Juarez city lights.

Before we left, Becky warned me that road trips are always an adventure because you have to be prepared for adventure. "Constant change is here to stay" to borrow from the Covenant Life motto. We received a call from the orphanage to hear reports of disease and illness that made the team decide to change their original dinner plans, where we were going to meet up with Emily and the gang at Cattleman's Steakhouse. So, on a recommendation, we tried a steakhouse a little closer to town-- to say the least we had six hours to dream of a good Texas "steak" dinner.

When we pulled up to the restaurant, it was on the side of the highway between El Paso and Las Cruces. Not impressive by any outward show, but the Alcantars had raved. So we sat down and ordered from a beef-filled menu -- I got the marinated sirloin kabob and Travis, a 3/4 pound sirloin steak. We enjoyed a new adventure as well, because apparently Hatch, New Mexico is the capital of chilies, so we enjoyed roasted green chilies on top of our steaks. Middleway through the dinner, Travis raved in a suprised voice how tender his steak way, and that he didn't even need a knife. So I reached over and took a bite. It certainly was tender. Tender like a hamburger. He asked the waitress to come over. She confirmed. It was a steak, a chopped sirloin steak. I told Travis, "Honey I think that's the most expensive hamburger you've ever seen!"

Other highlights:
  1. Seeing Nacho Libre in a crowded El Paso theatre at 9:30p with a "sympathetic" crowd
  2. Making breakfast for dinner for 60 people on one stove
  3. Spicy hot chocolate and tea at The Greenery, an awesome grocery store in a mall.
  4. Making memories as newlyweds.
  5. Storms and trains coming across the plains at the same time
  6. Coffee with John David Maresco
  7. RAIN!!!

Being cared for by my husband who in every way tries to bless me.