Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Finish This: Week Seventeen

Joining the link-up fun with Nicole at Three 31, Jen at The Arizona Russums, Becky at The Java Mama, and Lisa at Coastlined.

My last growing pain was spiritually, probably last week when the Lord told me yet again that it's wonderful to be different from my friends and to stop comparing myself. My last physical growing pain was last night when my dance aerobics instructor led the longest 3 minute arm exercise ever!

I grow and nurture friendships by inviting people into my home and focusing on connecting our hearts, not just making sure they're physically comfortable. I tend to get task-oriented over people-oriented, so I have to be intentional about giving my whole self to the person or people I'm with.

The most guilt-free snack I enjoy most Veggie Straws!!! I blogged about them here, and I still love them. If you need some salty crunchiness, grab a bag of these. Or if you're craving something sweet, black bean brownies are a thing. Substitute black beans {drained and rinsed well} for the egg and oil and add it to a box of brownie mix. Stir it up and bake it for approximately 45 minutes {follow the guidelines on the brownie box}, maybe a little longer than the directions. It's really yummy and has a kind of cake texture.

The best reason to stay up all night ...hmm, I can't say that I've stayed up ALLLLL night, but I did stay up way later than usual to read both The Fault In Our Stars and Redeeming Love. Both I stopped, slept, and woke up and finished.
On New Year's Eve 2013, Cami and Samara and I stayed up until FOUR in the morning, just talking. Reading and talking with friends are probably the best reasons to stay up late, but even with a great book or great friends, 2am is this Cinderella's midnight and I turn into a pumpkin!

If I were stranded on a desert island, I'd hope and pray that I had a good book or six! Plus sunscreen, because holy moly I would be a lobster otherwise. Plus some mixed drinks, because reasons. Oh, and if my sisters or bestie or bosom friend could come, too, that'd be great.

If you want to Finish This, leave your answers in the comments or add your post to the link-up. See you next week!

This Won't Hurt A Bit

On Monday, I mentioned the Princess Diaries. Then my dear friend Victoria referred to the Princess Diaries in her hysterical post. I don't know how I'm going to bring Mia into this post, but I'm confident she'll fit in somewhere, because today I'm going to tell you a story. One time, I went to Washington D.C. and my friend pierced my ear in the hotel bathroom.

I should back up. I specifically asked Whitney to pierce my cartilage, so she packed her piercing gun and I packed whiskey...just kidding, although now that I think about it, that would have been a great idea. Hindsight...

Anyway, we were in D.C. sweating like penguins in the desert and working for ye ol' Microsoft company. My friend used to work at Claire's and she still had her piercing gun, and I told her that I wanted her to pierce me, so she brought her gun. We got permission for her to come for a "sleepover" in my hotel room, and after we were settled in, we got down to business.

I put on my pajamas, because a) comfort and b) I didn't want to have to pull anything over my ear for a while. Whitney prepared her piercing gun and I prepared my heart... just kidding. But I did sit on the edge of the tub for a minute and breathe deeply. 

The most unnerving part was being able to watch everything happen in the mirror. Thank you, hotel bathrooms, for making sure that nothing was unnoticed. 

Whitney was ready. I was ready. She asked if I was ready. I told her I was ready. She made sure. I assured her. She counted down. I shut my eyes. I hope Whitney did not shut her eyes, but who's to know?

And just like that, my left cartilage was pierced! It was way less painful than I had expected, but then in the next couple weeks, it was more tender than I had expected. C'est la vie. 

I hope you've enjoyed this story time. If you've got a great piercing story to share, please let me know! But don't be gruesome, because I will faint. Poem series on that coming soon!

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday's Musings

Bek, why do you title most posts with an alliteration? Where does this deep desire {there you go again} for similar sounds {and again} originate?

I have no idea, but I offer "The Princess Diaries" as a deeply important part of my foundational years, and she knows a good alliteration when she hears one.

Moving right along.

So what fun things happened and are going to happen? I will tell you! This is like a 7QT, but on a Monday with no link-up and more alcohol. 

This past weekend was full of birthday celebrations for Samara {yay, 24!}. Pizza, Notions, bacon, laughter, sangria, Grumpy Cat, and Miranda were all included. Proof's here

I tried a new drink on Friday: a Dublin Mule. My friend Julie and I went out for dinner a few weeks ago and she tried a Moscow Mule, which was quite wonderful, and this Dublin Mule did not disappoint. So we decided that we are going to have a Mule party and make our own Mule drinks. It's ok; you can be jealous.

"Call the Midwife" had sadness last week and it's making me nervous for this week's {meaning last night's} episode. My mom and I have been watching them together on Monday afternoons, so don't tell me what happens in Ep. 5, but know that after Ep. 4 I went home and turned on opera music and chopped up peppers for Mexican lasagna and was sorely depressed all evening.

My roomie arrives on Wednesday!!! It's going to be wonderful to have Catherine here, and our prayers are almost answered: the forecast for Thursday is in the eighties!! If you're not from the Pacific Northwest, that won't be a big deal for you, but for us to reach 81* on May 1st is a) wonderful and b) miraculous. So please keep praying for some lovely sunshine for us, and we'll post pictures as a thank-you.

Some friends and I are starting a book club for Sarah Bessey's Jesus Feminist. It's going to be amazing and I'm really excited for our first meeting in a few weeks. I'm going to try and re-read it before we meet, so be looking for a book review soon.

Yesterday I watched the first episode of Season Six of "The Office." Oh my goodness. Jim + Pam!!!! This show is my new binge, and I'm not ashamed! I give Samara updates from "the office world" and we both get kicks out of the pranks and antics on the show, even though I'm the only one watching it devotedly. Any other "Office" fans out there? What's your favorite scene from the show?

Finally, I'm thrilled to announce that Natalie and I will be blog swapping and interviewing each other in the next week or so {still have to nail down the deets}. It's been lovely to email and get to know one another in that special way that only the internet makes both entirely and not-at-all awkward. Tune in for a more formal announcement after we finalize a date - Natalie is so fun!

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Funny Friday is Back! Scaredy Cat Edition

Try and contain your excitement - Funny Friday is back! Brace yourselves... literally, brace, because this post is about being scared by your flatmate. Coming back with a sha-bang!

Samara tells me on a semi-regular basis that she has extra adrenaline, and I believe her. I forget, but I believe her. She'll be making breakfast in the kitchen and I'll come down the hallway and say something really frightening like, "Good morning," and she'll jump and drop her toast. It's quite amusing, mainly because I never mean to scare her but she scares easily. {That's how the picture above relates: I'm the guy, minding my own business and going about normal activities, and Samara is the girl freaked out of her mind by my entrance.}

Last night was one of those nights that was awesome and hysterical and deep and profound and just plain groovy for besties {and that's all I'll tell you because I wouldn't be a good bestie if I told you everything, right?}. Samara and I were talking in my room and then we finally moved; she went to go clean her bathroom and I used my bathroom and then followed her to finish the conversation.

So I walked out of my bedroom ready to pick up our topic, but I didn't know where Samara was. The lights in both her room and bathroom were on, so I tried to see where she was. I turned my head from her bedroom towards her bathroom, but then there was a flash of light from her bedroom and SHE APPEARED with a casual "boo." 

I screamed. She laughed. We're best friends.

What happened was that she had tried to turn off her light but it flicked back on, and because of the angle of the wall, I hadn't seen her until she stepped forward. We both laughed {and continue to laugh} at ourselves because we never mean to scare one another; it just happens. 

Happy Friday, homies! Have a magnificent weekend, and try not to scare anyone.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Real Live Cooking Post

Hold the phones! Bek is posting a recipe!!! And not just a recipe, but like an actual guide, with actual pictures, to show that she actually cooked!

Try not to be blown away by the tornado that is my own bragging.

Alright, here's what's up. I cook like maybe 3 meals that can actually be considered meals, as opposed to cooking meat and then adding an accessory dish {or not... I'm pretty low-key}. BUT! This recipe I got from Victoria at Happily Ever Strader and this is the second time I've made it!!! I figured that was such a big deal that I needed to blog about it. You're welcome. 

So here's the deal: Victoria's recipe is wonderful and I {mostly} followed all her steps the first time I made it. And this time, I kinda, um, forgot? skipped? didn't include all the steps/ingredients. The moral of the story is, Victora made some tweaks, I made some tweaks, and you'll probably make your own tweaks, so let's tweak {not twerk} away and eat yummy food, mmkay? 

I broke it down into ten steps. Wow, that's a lot of steps, Bek! Yes, but there are pictures and a running commentary, so I think you'll enjoy the read. hint hint it's a long read. Also, if you want the technical measurements and stuff, head to Victoria's post, because nary a measurement will be found here, but there's plenty of snarkiness to go around. And we begin. 

  • bell peppers {I used three because the grocer sells a three-pack. What can I say, I'm a sucker for things already in a bag.}
  • half an onion
  • can of corn
  • can of black beans
  • can of refried beans
  • enchilada sauce {I've only tried mild because it's red, but if you try the medium or hot, do let me know how it is!}
  • several handfuls of grated cheese {I have a bag of white and cheddar mixed; it's totes delish}
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • chicken {not found in Victoria's recipe - my own brilliance added that...because absolutely no one else could have come up with adding chicken to a dish}
  • cumin 
  • chili powder
Step One: Slice and dice those peppers! And the onion... but the onion isn't as colorful as the peppers, so it's only in like 2 pictures. While you're slicing and dicing, set a pan on your stove {about medium heat} and get it ready to saute those veggies.

Look at that yumminess!

Step Two: Once your veggies are cut and your pan is hot, add a teensy bit of oil to the pan and add your veggies. Sprinkle a bit of chili powder and cumin on them. You don't have to stir too much; just be careful not to burn anything. You want them browned, not completely blackened. Um, I found out the hard way that if you cut the onions into pieces that are significantly smaller than the peppers, they will cook MUCH faster. Just food for thought... get it?

Step Three: While your veggies are being sauted, open and drain the cans of corn and black beans. These are going to be sauted next. I got out a big bowl and had it ready to hold the peppers and onion while the corn and beans were on the stove. 
Oh, depending on how quickly or slowly your oven heats up, you may want to start preheating it now. 400 degrees is your goal.

Step Four: It's probably time to get the peppers and onions off the stove and put the corn and black beans in that same dish {yay for fewer dishes!}. Once you're on the second round of saute-ing, get out a 9x13 pan. Grease it. Grab your enchilada sauce {seriously, if you try medium or hot, tell me if you die of either happiness or heat stroke}. Spread some sauce over the bottom of your dish. I did a couple squirts up and down and then made sure to get the corners. 

Step Five: Stir your corn and beans. If you want to add cumin and chili powder to them, awesome. If not, awesome. No judgement here. Now open up your bag of tortillas {or grab them fresh from your oven, you pioneer woman you. No judgement.} and cut them into strips. They're going to cover the bottom of the pan. I think I used 3-4 for the bottom, and my strips were about as wide as my pinky and 2/3 as long. I know, I know, so technical. I'll stop, I promise. 

Step Six: Alright, the corn and beans are pretty much done, so add them to your bowl of veggies. Re-oil that pan {it's getting a workout tonight!} and put in some chicken. If you want to add the spices to the chicken, go for it. I did, and it turned out wonderfully. 
While your chicken is cooking, grab your bowl of peppers, onion, corn, and black beans. Half of that goes on your layer of tortillas. Just half. Trust me.

Step Seven: THE CHICKEN IS ON FIRE! Just kidding, but I made you check it, didn't I? Oops, it really is on fire. Well, cajun is a style of cooking, so we're good. Rollin' with the punches is what we do best, right?
Once your chicken is extinguished cooked, put it on top of the veggie layer in your pan. 

Step Eight: Alright, let's review our layers. There's the dish itself, obviously, and then there's some enchilada sauce, some tortilla strips, half your veggies {peppers, onion, corn, black beans}, and your freshly burnt cooked chicken. 
Now it's time for the refried beans. Victoria recommends adding some water to the beans so they spread easier, but I've tried it both without and with the water and I didn't notice a difference, so do whatever you want in order to spread the refried beans into your pan.
Is your oven on yet? 400 degrees, baby!

Step Nine: After the refried beans are spread nicely {or not so nicely - no judgement on how things go down in your kitchen. I definitely yelled at my refried beans, so don't feel bad if yours were pains in the drain also}, sprinkle some cheese over them. I find that the cheese covers up any deficits in the bean department, so be generous. 
Then cut up some more tortillas for another layer, squirt some more enchilada sauce on them, add the rest of your veggies, and top it all off with another round of cheese! Whew!
Your oven should be preheated and all toasty now!

Step Ten: Cover your dish with foil. Victoria has this clever trick where she sprays the foil with Pam before covering the dish, and that way nothing sticks to the foil. Try it; it's totes brilliant. Place the foil-covered dish in your 400 degree oven and set the timer for 15-20 minutes. The goal is for the cheese on top to be melted, so channel Tim Gunn and make it work. When the cheese is melted, hooray! Dinner's ready!

Ta da! Congratulations for sticking with it all the way to the end! Victoria's directions are probably way easier to follow and there's definitely less snark over on her blog, but if you've made it this far, a) you're my stalker-sister or b) you enjoy snark. Either way, I wish you well on your cooking endeavor!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finish This: Week Sixteen

Linking up with Nicole at Three 31, Jen at The Arizona Russums, Becky at The Java Mama, and Lisa at Coastlined.

My favorite makeup item is Mary Kay's eye primer. I wrote about my love for this product back in February {actually, I wrote about a lot of products}, and this is still my favorite. One little tube lasts me about a year, so don't even worry about ROI.

The best book I've ever read was Les Miserables because only Victor Hugo can make me cry with his beautiful sentences...about the sewers of Paris. No lie, I would read this book in bed and would wake up my roomie with tears in my eyes: "Catherine, listen to this sentence!" Also, there is great love in this book, and I love reading about how fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, men, and women love each other and what they sacrifice for one another.

My favorite tv show is um, can you guess? Me neither. My favorite rotates between "Sherlock," "Doctor Who," and "Miranda." If we limit it to American television, then I'd say "Suits."

The most spontaneous thing I've ever done is dyed my hair purple. My friend Jessica said, "I want to do something wild," and after a few suggestions that were vetoed, I asked, "Like dye your hair purple?" She hesitated, "Mmm, no..." which meant I was close. "What about dye my hair purple?" And she exclaimed, "Yes! That's it! Do you mean it?" And I did, so we got AJ involved and used her sink and ta-da!

in process

from the back

all done!

I prefer dogs over cats because dogs actually like me back. Cats are such....{don't swear don't swear don't swear!} meanies. If you want a laugh and don't mind a wee bit of profanity, check out this video of dog-friends and cat-friends. It pretty much sums up why I will take a dog over a cat any day.

I met I'll meet my significant other as soon as God introduces us. Or as soon as Benedict Cumberbatch shows up at my front door; I'm open to either. ;)

To join the link-up fun, finish the prompts in your own post or in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Not Alone Series: Marriage

Welcome, friends! Today's link-up is brought to you by Jen at Jumping in Puddles and Morgan at Follow and Believe. If you want to join the fun, add your post to the link collection!

Most of us feel called to the vocation of marriage, but what exactly are you attracted to? What have you seen in others' marriages that you would embrace or would do differently {from married friends or parents}?

Continuing with the honesty theme, I'm just gonna let it all out. Marriage appeals to me the most because it means there's always someone with me. Hi, my name is Bek, and I'm a 9.5 out of 10 on the Extrovert Scale. Plain and simple, having a forever-partner sounds delightful, and I'm excited for that season of life to start.

When I first read today's prompt, what came to mind was favorite aspects of my friends' marriages. If it's not too cheesy, I'd like to share some favorites with you now.

First, the marriage that has directly affected me the most: my parents'! Mom and Dad have been married for almost 27 years, and what I love about their marriage is how they respect and honor each other. My sisters and I complain sometimes about how often we'd hear "go ask your mom" and "go ask your dad" after already speaking to the other parent. Frustrating as a kid when you want to go ride bikes, but as an adult, I realize how much my parents wanted {and still want} to prefer one another.

my cute parents

My paternal grandparents were married for 60 years and a few weeks before my grandpa passed away. I wrote about their marriage on what would have been their 61st anniversary, and I'll summarize my favorite part of their marriage was how they took care of each other. Grandpa always was looking out for Grandma, even when the Alzheimer's took away much of his understanding. And of course Grandma took care of Grandpa as his mind was further and further lost. What incredible examples!

My maternal grandparents just celebrated their 61st anniversary this year {my grandparents were all married the same year, actually only a month apart!}, and I've shared some of their hilarity from when I lived with them. What I love about their marriage is that they are always laughing with each other. After 61 years, my grandparents still flirt with each other and amuse each other. I'm looking forward to laughing with my husband someday.

My bosom friend AJ and her husband D are pretty awesome. I basically lived with them on the weekends for a couple years, and what I love about their marriage is how they really enjoy being together and doing things together. Whether it's going to Wally World or playing Skip-Bo, AJ and D really love being together; they are really good friends as well as spouses.

These are just a few things I admire about my friends' and family's marriages, and once I get married, I'll probably do a post about faves from my own marriage :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

This Is Real Life

Last week, Holy Week, felt like Completely Unholy Week. Thank God it's over and that He is risen!

There were really only two factors that made last week hard: work and my health. On Monday, I was sitting at work, at the very desk where I'm currently sitting, and I had a revelation. I hate my current job. Yep.

For some background: I work for my parents, and last year when I started working for them full-time, I was worried and stressed and freaking out because I didn't completely know what I was doing or love what I was doing, but I didn't want to disappoint my parents, and if I didn't love this, how on earth would I get another job ever in my life??? Thankfully, my parents eased my fears by assuring me that not working for them was indeed an option; my friend Laurie reminded me that transitions take about a year to get fully adjusted, and so I relaxed. One might even say I flirted with apathy.

On Monday, it hit me: I hate this. I cannot continue sitting at a desk staring at a computer. I need human interaction. Suddenly, I was both so relieved and so frustrated! Relief washed over me because I knew that I didn't have to stay in this job. Frustration filled me because now that I've had this revelation, I have to have some patience before anything changes.

The good news is, Dad and I have talked about me doing something different, and on Wednesday, we had that conversation. And that's that. He's going to make some phone calls and I'm holding onto patience while the ball s-l-o-w-l-y starts rolling. I'm so thankful for a father and boss who are understanding and who want me to succeed.

Part Two: health challenges.

Both for my dignity and for you weak stomachs out there, I'm going to give you just the highlights of my health roller coaster: doctor's appointment, antibiotics, missing work, working from home, learning that when meds say "take with food" they really mean "take with food so you don't feel nauseous and puke at work," a trip to the ER, and more antibiotics. Ta da!

I find myself laughing at God's sense of timing, because the very week I realize that I hate sitting in front of this computer all day is the same week that antibiotics and ER visits keep me home for about half of my working hours. Thank You, God, for pulling me out of the office right when I needed it most.

To end on a light and fluffy note, I went to my favorite bull's-eye store on Saturday and splurged on some a-freaking-mazing pink nail polish for Easter. So thankful He is risen indeed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Out of Practice

Oh, hi.... there's no prompt to follow... um, how do I do this again? I think I forgot how to blog.

Samara and I were talking blogs earlier, and she dubbed 2014 as "the year of the link-ups." I have been a little heavy on the link-ups, haven't I? Or rather, I've been light on the non-link-up posts. Sorry! I will do my best to remedy the situation... I think that 7QT will happen less frequently and Funny Fridays and IRL posts will happen more frequently. At least if I can remember how to think of posts without a prompt.

Alright, honesty is going to be my prompt. I don't think I've blogged very much "real" stuff lately because I've been comparing myself to other bloggers people and haven't felt like my thoughts are worth posting. Several creative pieces have come to me about not comparing myself, and while in some areas of life this isn't a struggle any more, there are still some areas where I have to keep fighting.

This blog is one of those areas.

My blog doesn't look like Samara's or Jen's or Dahlia's or Grace's or Laura's or Yvonne's. Our content is different. Our writing style is different. Our readers are different. Different is okay. I'm slooooowly learning this truth, and sloooooower than slow am learning how to live it.

So what if I don't have kids to share pictures of, or that I don't have book reviews of my favorite books, or that I bring up abortion in otherwise non-political prompts, or that I like linking up with bloggers from all over? So what if I listen to the "Man of Steel" soundtrack everyday for two weeks? So what if the only thing I blog about are stories of hiding from spiders or answering link prompts? So what if my process, both of blogging and living, is messy and awkward and still a process? Welcome to life!

The point is, this blog is full of the things that fill me. I can't write like anyone else because I am not anyone else. I am me, full of quirks and oddities and awesomeness.

Over and over and over the Lord has whispered to me, "You are enough." And I think I'm beginning to believe Him, on this blog and in life. I think my blogging is coming back. I'm back.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finish This: Week Fifteen

Joining the party hosted by Nicole at Three 31, Jen at The Arizona Russums, Becky at The Java Mama, and Lisa at Coastlined.

My favorite vacation spot is anywhere warm! Plop me on a beach with some sunscreen, a margarita, and great book, and Bek is happy. Also, I'd go to Kentucky, because that's where a good chunk of my heart is :)

If I won a million dollars, I'd buy some rental properties, invest for the future, get some plane tickets, and buy some ultrasound machines for Save the Storks and Care Net.

If I could go on a date with one celebrity, it would be a really hard decision between Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Smith, and Jennifer Lawrence.

If we allow for time travel for this date, Sir Winston Churchill and William Wilberforce would join the race.

If I found a genie in a bottle, my three wishes would be quite the spectrum! I'd like a personal masseuse, to reverse Roe v. Wade, and for the Doctor and the TARDIS to show up at my front door.

My favorite clothing item is ankle socks. I have a pack that all have different colored stripes over the toes, and I love that I don't have to think when I'm trying to match socks out of the dryer. Do the colors match? Good, the socks match. Done and done.

Wanna join this party? You can leave your answers in the comments or add your blog to the link-up. See ya next week!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Not Alone Series: Selfishness

Linking up with Jen at Jumping in Puddles and Morgan at Follow and Believe.

How do you combat being selfish with your time? As a single person, it's easy to get caught up in our own little independent world. There are those moments when we are needed for extra church things, hanging with our friends' kids, getting caught up with something on the one night we could stay in, etc., and we get frustrated that the needs of others are taking away from our own time. How do you avoid this selfish tendency and what do you do to avoid becoming frustrated with "sharing" your time with others?

Since I had a lot of positive feedback on last week's prompt {great big thank you for all the sweet comments!}, I trust that you will read with grace this week.

For the most part, I think I do okay at this. I'm part of the childcare ministry. There is a family at church whose kids I adore, so I'll "donate" a few hours of babysitting time. In the next few weeks, I'm going to start volunteering at the local hospital as a baby cuddler, and of course there's Care Net {sensing a theme, maybe?}. Most of the time I'm aware that singleness is a season and that I won't always have opportunities to get involved with different organization like I do now. I'm grateful for this time where I can juggle several different commitments.

However, I struggle with serving my grandma with a good attitude. There, I said it. It's easy for me to get involved with church or volunteer activities because I'm a people person and there are people involved in each capacity :) But when my grandma asks me to help her with something, internally I'm sighing and rolling my eyes and wishing that she would utilize one of her granddaughters who lives with her. I'm selfish because I would rather not help my grandma.

How lame, Bek. You don't like to help your 90-year-old grandmother.

I know. And I'm working on it. I'm remembering that she is 90, that someday I will be grateful for all the time I got with her, that someday should become rightthisminute. I'm working on it. I'm trying to concentrate on what a wonderful lady my grandma is and how much she can teach me and how glad I am that she's asking me to drive her places instead of wanting to drive herself {it took a while for my grandpa to give up the keys, but thankfully Grandma willingly asks for rides}. I'm grateful that Grandma is still here with us and that she's healthy and active and participating in the Daughters of the American Revolution and asking me for help with the computer because how many 90-year-olds ask email questions?!?

I combat selfishness with gratitude and the grace of God. It's an ongoing battle, but I know that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.

Want to join the link-up? Answer the prompt and share the link to that post on Morgan or Jen's page. Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 11, 2014

7QT: Make 'Em Laugh

Linking up with the super talented but handwriting challenged Jen at Conversion Diary! {I'm not insulting her; I'm encouraging you to read her post!}

1. This week is unusual in that I'm starting my QT from scratch today. The past few weeks I've started a draft on Wednesday or Thursday, so by Friday I only have to come up with 4-5 Takes. This week is all from the same morning. And for that, I apologize. Here, laugh at this before you read any more.

2. My baby sister turned 20 {TWENTY!!!??} earlier this month, and like any good nerdy sister would do, I bought her a good nerdy present: The Star Wars Cookbook with Cookie Cutters {it's on sale!} is now in the hands of a twenty-year-old. She came over Tuesday night and we baked Wookie Cookies {wow, did I actually just type that?!}. They are quite yummy, although I was sad because they did not require the use of the cookie cutters. Another day, another destiny.

3. In less than three weeks, my college roomie Catherine is coming to visit! We {ok, I - Catherine doesn't know about them yet} have grand plans, and you can bet your bonnet {if you have one} that there will be pictures and a blog post to document this momentous occasion. Please pray for good weather! Spring time in the Pacific Northwest can be so fickle, and I'd love love love to have some sunshine for Catherine!

4. Last week, I think I listened to the "Man of Steel" soundtrack two dozen times. This week, Bastille's "Bad Blood" album has been on repeat. Their acoustic versions {"Flaws" and "Pompeii" and "Oblivion"} are seriously incredible.

5. Saturday is my grandma's 90th birthday party. We have cousins coming in from all over, and my grandma's room-mate from college is going to be there. {No pressure, Catherine, but I expect that you will be at my 90th birthday party and vice-versa.} My mom has done the lion's share of the preparation, and my small contribution is making the slideshow of allllllll the pictures from the past 90 years. I found some gems of my father in his younger days; please enjoy, and for those who don't know my dad IRL, know that he still makes the same mischievous face:

6. Since becoming a regular part of Notions Club, I've branched out a bit more in my writing. A few poems have come to fruition, and my guest post for Victoria was originally read at a Notions meeting. That being said, I've been thinking about sharing these pieces on ye old blog here. And I'm thinking, what the hey. I'm gonna click "Publish" and let readers see everything, not just the fun link-ups and the "how's life?" posts. Some pieces may require an explanation, some are really deep, some are rather silly, and that's the way the {Wookie} cookie crumbles. :)

7. Because it wouldn't be Friday without some fangirl memes... Today's fangirl Take is brought to you by Ben and Martin:

Happy Friday and happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finish This: Week Fourteen

It's time for Finish This! Linking up with Nicole at Three 31, Jen at The Arizona Russums, Becky at The Java Mama, and Lisa at Coastlined.

On Saturday, I usually sleep in, but still wake up in time for a morning Zumba class. Saturday is also laundry day, "The Office" day, and errands day.

I feel beautiful when I get to wear non-office clothing. It's not that my office-appropriate clothing are ugly; they're just a bunch of clothes that I cycle through, and so I get excited when I can wear something fun that isn't necessarily ok to wear to the office.

I wake up every morning hitting the snooze button and then fumbling for the Bible app on my phone. I like to listen to a chapter in the morning, if I'm coherent enough to push the right buttons. Right now my pastor is taking us through John, and I'm on my second time through this year.
Also, I'm with Jen - I wake up wishing that I had gone to bed earlier. I shoot for 10, knowing 10:30 is reasonable, but 11 has said hi a few times this week already.

A happy home has happy residents, and this resident likes a clean home! Dishes are a big deal to me; I don't like leaving dirty dishes tables or countertops. Also, I can't go to bed until the kitchen is reasonably clean - counters wiped off, dishes either loaded or soaking, food put away. The morning is so much smoother if the kitchen is clean from the night before. Plus, a happy home is a welcoming home, and I so much prefer to welcome guests into a clean home.

When I have down time, I clean my house {see above} and read. I've got 3 books that I'm currently in the midst of {plus the audio book in the car}, and I have a love/hate relationship with the pressure library due dates give me.

Thanks for joining! See ya next week...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Not Alone Series: Dating Dos and Don'ts

Joining the link-up fun with Jen at Jumping in Puddles and Morgan at Follow and Believe. Shout-out to my good friend Dahlia who also joined the link-up this week!

What are those things we should be doing and the things we shouldn't be doing? They can be from the physical parts {clothes to wear, places to go, things to say} or emotional parts {talking about it all the time, planning the future, etc.}. We can all learn something in hindsight, so what are your tips to share?

First of all, you should know that I have been on a grand total of one and only one date. It was really fun, but that's all that happened, so yeah. Not Alone Series, thank you for this prompt, because some days {read: today} I really need reminded that I'm not alone!

Do this!
  • Do...expect to be treated like a princess. Dates reveal how the gentleman will treat you in the future, so set your expectations high. Does he open doors for you? Did he pay? Does he pay attention to you?
  • flexible. The gentleman who asked me out didn't get his work schedule until a few days before, and then plans got changed after the fact. Roll with the punches!
  • Do...ask questions. My friend Laurie and I went through a box of "conversation cards" when we worked together, and I was so glad to have a few unusual questions in my arsenal. If you don't know the gentleman very well, almost any question will spark a conversation {favorite book? education history? relationship with siblings? favorite past-time?}.
Don't do this!
  • Don' afraid to set conversation boundaries. There are probably some personal details that you feel comfortable sharing, and then there are the details that you aren't comfortable sharing, and that's wonderful. This happened to me: we were having a lovely conversation, but he asked a question that, for me, was sharing too much. I didn't even have to say that I didn't want to answer; the gentleman read the hesitancy in my face and he apologized for asking. I appreciated both his interest in my life and his sensitivity to my boundaries.
  • Don't...feel like you have to know if he's The One after the first date. Especially if you're newly acquainted, give the relationship {friendship and friendlier-ship} some time. There are things you may not know about him yet, so don't feel like you have to know after just a few dates.
  • Don't...blame yourself if the first date is all that happens. My pastor and high school instructor always said there are three parts of a relationship: the right person in the right way at the right time. Don't force it or freak out if the relationship doesn't have all three parts. I'd rather have God's man in His way at His time than my own efforts. 

Thanks again, Morgan and Jen and fellow NAS-ers. This community and your support means so much. I thank God for you!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Upcoming Visit

People, I've got news. My college roomie Catherine is coming up for a visit!! I called her on Saturday and determined that she is the coolest kid ever because she was willing to tolerate a sucky flight in order to make this trip happen. The best part is that the tickets were VERY well-priced...especially for a trip that's in less than 4 weeks! Eeeee!

roomies! with the young child we babysat behind us ;)

On the last day of the month, this dynamic duo is back in action! {Ok, it might take until the first of May, since Catherine gets in at 11pm on the 30th. Sleep is a priority, people.} Stay tuned for plots and schemes of the best kind. I'm really looking forward to showing Catherine around my native land {cue Washington State song} and perhaps even venturing upwards to Canada, as well as watching some Doctor Who {my roomie is cooler than your roomie!} and enjoying some margaritas. Don't say that 21-year-olds have all the fun.

Speaking of plotting and scheming, I need some advice. Out-of-towners, if you got to spend a few days in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, what spots are on your bucket list? Local readers, are there any non-tourist-y places that Catherine must see?

Also, I have great faith in the blogging community. If we all join together and pray for nice weather, I'm confident that Catherine will see some sunshine whilst she's here! Amen and amen.

Friday, April 4, 2014

7QT: Mail, Guest Posts, and Waiting for BBC

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick {and unusually short} Takes!

1. Relevant has nailed it! This article about pursuing a calling without killing a career is spot on.

2. Jamie the Very Worst Missionary wrote this post and I love love love it.

3. Just got a lovely note from Laura at A Single Drop in the Ocean. Laura, you are so sweet! And your handwriting is gorgeous... I'm kicking myself for skimping on cursive lessons back in 3rd grade. Um, don't be creeped out if I consider you my pen-pal foreverandalways.

4. In case you missed it {Blogger rejected God's gifts of "copy" and "paste" so there were some technical challenges}, here is Victoria's guest post! Read it. She's hysterical.

5. Yesterday I got to have lunch with the wonderful Dahlia! She came over to visit her sis {yay for Spring Break!}, and then she and I went to the best Chinese restaurant in the state. We also went on a Craig's List adventure and got fro yo at Red Mango. So much fun! Of course this quick visit makes me want to go see her, so I'm thinking a weekend in May will compel me to her side of the mountains.

6. Tomorrow morning I have an interview at the hospital near my house. The position is for a volunteer baby cuddler. Yes, that is an actual thing! I'm really excited, and hopefully I will start soon.

7. Because it's 7QT and Friday and I miss British television {currently taking recommendations for new shows!}:

Happiest of weekends to you, dear readers!

Shaving: A Guest Post

Hey readers! Today you are treated to a guest post from the marvelous Victoria. She blogs over at Victoria's Ramblings where she shares thought-provoking posts and pictures of her yummy baby. Enjoy!                               

The Complete Beginners Guide to Shaving

When Bek invited me to guest post I knew I wanted to make it good. Putting your best foot forward and all that. Bek and I go way back. At least as way back as college and, since I can barely remember yesterday, college might as well be time immemorial. But when I was thinking about what to write all I could think of was shaving. That's right - shaving. Only the best for my college buddies, you know. 

I was probably thinking about shaving because I had just finished my morning shower when I read her email. My typical morning shower in which I hack my legs into a bloody mess. Like a scene out of Saw 4. (Not that I have ever seen, have any desire to see, or ever plan to see Saw 4. But I think you get my drift.)

Since shaving was the best guest post topic I could come up with (again, I'm so sorry Bek, it's all I have) I thought about the first time I ever tried to shave. I seem to remember being invited to a birthday-pool-party-sleepover when I was in the fourth grade. (Don't you miss birthday-pool-party-sleepovers?) For some reason, I had begun obsessing over my newly sprouted leg hair. I was an "early bloomer" or whatever they call it. Hashtag painful. Hashtag awkward. I was convinced that every girl at the party would still have skin like the Coppertone baby and I would be the lone Sasquatch. Because that's exactly what a fourth grade girl needs: body image issues.

"Hey Mom," I thought I would start off casual, "you know I'm almost ten. Do you think I could start shaving?"

"Absolutely not. You're way too young."

"But Mooooooom!" I protested. "I have leg hair! No on else at the party is going to have leg hair! It's embarrassing!"



"Victoria, you are too young to worry about shaving your legs. Once you start you have to keep shaving them and your hair will grow back even darker than before. Trust me." Whatever. You don't know my life.

Clearly, mom left me no choice. I would have to take shaving into my own hands. Or legs.

During my evening shower, I was determined to exit less hairy than I entered. Of course, being nine years old, I had no razor to call my own. Naturally, I would just have to borrow one. And, of course, being nine years old, I had no concept of how crucial shaving cream is to the shaving process. Or about the type of razor to use. So, I picked up my dad's five -blade manly sharp razor, because I was stupid like that, and positioned the head at the base of my ankle.

Then I dug in and pulled the razor up my leg.

And immediately lost five quarts of my life's blood.

I screamed. 

Mom rushed in. 

Mom screamed.

This was the end. 

An hour, and several drenched towels, later I was lying in bed with my foot propped up on my Aladdin beanbag. I remembered watching an ER episode in which a gunshot victim had their leg propped up to slow the bleeding. And basically everything you need to know about First Aid you can pick up from watching ER. (Don't ask my why I was watching ER at the ripe age of nine. If I was old enough to worry about shaving, then I assume I was mature enough to follow the nighttime dramas with every other 40-year-old woman in America.)

Like I said, I was lying in bed and had myself thoroughly convinced that I was going to die. I prayed that God would spare me. I prayed that I would live to see tomorrow. I wondered what Mom and Dad would do with the stereo I had just gotten for Christmas. Then I woke up the next morning. Crisis averted.

Mom must have had compassion on me after she saw what drastic measures I would take for beauty. She suggested that we try Nair. And if you've ever used Nair you'll know that it feels something like your legs have been dipped in acid. The price we pay. The funny thing is that Mom was still convinced I was too young to be worried about any sort of hair removal on my pubescent legs. But she justified herself by allowing me to use Nair only on the front part of my shins. (Sorry Mom, but this is true. I wouldn't forget something like this.) I did end up attending that birthday-pool-party-sleepover, but with perhaps more deflated confidence over my half-hairy Sasquatch legs than before. Hashtag struggle bus.

With such a swell start to my shaving career, it's no wonder that I've never quite gotten the hang of it. I could mask my shaving inabilities well enough when I was single, but now I'm married. The problem with being "naked and unashamed" is, well, you have to get naked. My husband just empathetically shakes his head at me when I limp out of our bathroom, pressing a tissue on three different parts of my thigh to stop the bleeding.

I'm not sure what the moral of the story could be. Tell your daughter not to worry so much about her appearance. Let your daughter shave when she wants to. Stock up on Band Aids. Learn how to shave. Or maybe it's to wear pants for the rest of your life and avoid shaving all together. No matter what grain of truth you take from this cautionary tale, my sincere apologies to Bek for not thinking of anything more substantive to write about than shaving.

Victoria, you are welcome back anytime you want, no matter how hairy your legs. Thank you for this hysterical post; it certainly brought back memories of my first time shaving, which was also hilarious in hindsight. I'll spare the lovely readers this tale and just say thanks again, Victoria!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Finish This: Week Thirteen

Linking up with the lovely hostesses of Finish This: Jen at The Arizona Russums, Becky at The Java Mama, Nicole at Three 31, and Lisa at Coastlined. Check 'em out and join the fun!

I don't get enough time with my sisters. It's been a few years since we've all consistently lived in the same house for any amount of time longer than Christmas break, and as crazy as sharing a bathroom was, I miss spending all that time with them. When we get together, we laugh until our sides ache and our cheeks are sopping wet. My sisters are bomb.
Here we are with our favorite cousin

My favorite indulgence is hanging out with friends no matter how late. I'm such a people person and my friends are all wonderful... I'd so much rather talk and be with lovely people than do something as boring as sleep! On New Year's Eve, Samara and Cami and I stayed up talking until 4am. Yikes! I've never stayed up that late/early before, but it was so fun and felt justified since we could sleep in. So much wonderfulness.

I made a major life change when I moved out into my own place. The awesome fun-ness of living on my own is very much balanced with the huge sense of responsibility I feel, and I have to say that I love both the freedom and the gravity. 
I'm going to add another life change. When I started volunteering at Care Net, my life became a declaration. Four hours every week is not a whole lot, but it is the first step of a lifelong journey, and I'm so looking forward to it all.

You should read Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey, the Unwind series by Neal Shusterman, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart, Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. Y'all should know better than to ask a bookwork for book recommendations ;)

Almond bark is my secret ingredient in crack popcorn. To read the full recipe, check out this post {with a picture, no less!}. 

Thanks for another great link-up! Tune in next week for some more prompts, and please add your blog to link-up or finish these sentences in the comments. Until next time...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Not Alone Series: Goals & Lent

Linking up with Morgan from Follow and Believe and Jen from Jumping in Puddles.

Remember the first NAS post this year? How are the goals that you set going? Regardless of how those goals are going, how are you utilizing Lent to continue to strive for those goals?

In short, my goals at the beginning of this series were to grow in friendships, seek new dreams, increase my love capacity, and keep on writing. Now let's get down to business and evaluate!

I think that my friendships have definitely grown. My friend Rebecca and I keep each other entertained {seriously, I'm pretty sure God lets us hang out together just so He gets a good laugh}. I've gotten to know Cami better, which is fantastic because she's fantastic. Some Notions friends and I have started hanging out more regularly outside of Notions. I'm so grateful for all the wonderful people with whom the Lord has connected me. 

Dreams...the song from "Tangled" comes to mind...

I don't know about anything specific, but I do think the Lord has renewed my vision. In late January, I talked with my parents about some goals and dreams, and then in February, Samara and I went on a retreat with Jesus. The conversations from these times have encouraged me to keep going in life, and while I can't see the end of the road, I can see the next step, and that's becoming enough.

For the love capacity goal, I think that the first two answer the third. Always, always, always there can be more love, and the Lord can keep on increasing my capacity. Has He already? Absolutely.

Last but not least, there's the writing goal. I've not written any more about Edna Walters yet, but I've been participating in several link-ups and overall have been writing a bit more. One of my goals coming out of my Jesus retreat was to both blog and journal more frequently, and that's been good. Some of my writing has come up at Notions, and some of it is just going to stay in my journal, and it's all good. 

My Lenton goals {shared in these 7QT} are going well. It's so challenging for me not to read at night {especially since I'm in the midst of three excellent books}, but I know that this is a good exercise for my self-control muscle. And it's been quite wonderful, actually, to write encouraging notes to people. It's fun to ask Jesus who needs some encouragement, and then trust Him for the right words to write. If you'd like a note, send me your mailing address and I will add you to my list! I've got some pretty awesome stationary, if I do say so myself :)

Thank you, Morgan and Jen, for hosting this wonderful link-up each week! It's so encouraging to hear from other women in similar processes, and I really love reviewing what God has done in our lives so far this year.