Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer is Here!

It was officially here on Tuesday, but the last couple of days has really brought the reality home with triple digit temps.  I'm looking forward to a little escape from our hot Central Valley, where we will get to enjoy this:

Have a happy weekend! :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Waiting Game

I hate waiting.

If you know me, you probably know this fact about me.  I don't like the feeling that precious minutes are passing by, and we are just stuck until something comes.  I don't like factors outside my little realm of control dictating how I spend my time.  But more than the waiting, I hate the letdown of waiting for something that doesn't work out.  All the energy that went into that week or month or year seems to collapse right on top of me.  

I feel like that has been my life the last few years.  I've shared that we have been wanting a baby for some time, so you could probably guess that my life is lived in months.  A new month comes, a new opportunity, a new waiting game, and, as it has proven so far at least, a new disappointment.  

This whole routine gets me very restless and anxious.  I try to keep busy because that at least gives myself the impression that life is fine, but the truth is, distractions don't last very long.  At the end of the day, I still have to deal with the fact that things are absolutely out of my control.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Scripture tells us to "wait on the Lord."  Waiting goes against our human desire to control things.  When we are forced to wait on someone, we are no longer in charge; we are at the mercy of someone else.  Thankfully, we are able to wait on the Lord knowing He is good and kind and merciful.  There is hope involved in our waiting because we have a gracious and loving Father, and we know He will respond.  Nevertheless, it is still hard, which is probably why it is so good for us.  Waiting is what the Great Physician often prescribes to build our character and grow our faithfulness--but this medicine is hard for me to swallow!

As I was looking up Scriptures about waiting, I came across this little study.  It's quite lengthy, but I wanted to share some of the points.  You can read the whole text here if you'd like.  No doubt, I am not the only one playing the waiting game these days.

Waiting on the Lord
Study by J. Hampton Keathley, III

What is involved in waiting on the Lord?
1.  Waiting means confident expectation, so waiting and hoping go together.
2.  Waiting involves an expectation based on knowledge and trust - our ability to wait on God is connected to our confidence in who God is and what God has done!
3.  Waiting involves seeking the Lord, spending time in His Word, in prayer, and in meditation.
4.  Waiting involves resting in God's timing, acting when He is calling us to act and resting when He is calling us to rest.

Why should we wait on the Lord?
1.  Because of who God is and what He is able to do - again, we need knowledge of God through experience and Scripture
2.  Because of who we are and what we are not able to do - we need to have a right view of ourselves and our weakness

What benefits are there to waiting?
1.  Waiting strengthens and enables us.
2.  Waiting strengthens and builds character.
3.  Waiting lifts us out of despair and causes praise to God.
4.  Waiting encourages others and gives greater ability to witness.

I am looking forward to printing out the study and spending some time with it, but the truth is I always know that when I feel restless and anxious, God is calling me to Him.  No distraction on this earth can fix my heart when it's broken.  Only God can lessen my disappointment and ease my pain.  Only He can give me the strength to wait -- to wait with expectancy and hope and love.  Strangely enough, it brings me comfort to know that God wants us to wait.  It brings purpose to this trial in my life, when I am tempted to think it is all for nothing.  There is no trial, no struggle, no pain that God cannot and will not use for His glory.  Praise Him!

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice.  Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word, I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.  
Psalm 130:1-2, 4-6

Tidbits Tuesday

1.  Sunday was a celebration of our Dads with lunch and lounging at my parents, then Panera Bread with Robby's.  Here's a picture of my dad showing off what went on at church.  (Bet you wish your church did super cool things like this!)  There was a "Top Shot" competition, but sadly my dad didn't win.  Although according to him, he said he didn't want to win.  Below that, Jerry is displaying his gift, a new cd, which just maybe might be the same thing we got my dad.  Hey, everyone loves Alison Krauss, right?

2.  I have a pumpkin patch growing.  I planted a whole package of seeds, and nearly all of them have sprouted!  Since I can't very well have 12 vines growing in my yard this year, they're here if anyone wants to try one at their home.  (Mom and Steph, yours are ready when you want them!)  These are white Lumina pumpkins, which you can read about here.

3.  I spoke too soon last week when I complained about the heat.  We are well into the 100's today and tomorrow, over ten degrees higher than what it usually is in June.  It's going to be a long summer...

4.  I am pretty excited about my tomatoes!  Just look at these beauties!  The one on the left is my first non-cherry tomato, an Early Girl.  And it seems the tomatillo plant might be okay, afterall.  I was worried that it needed to have a partner plant to work, but little tomatillos are starting to grow. enchiladas!

5.  And just for fun (and especially for Anna), a picture of Robby and Calla:

Happy hot Tuesday!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Six Years, Coastal Style!

This past Saturday, my hubby and I celebrated six years of marriage.  Being the fun husband he is, he planned a surprise getaway to Pismo, thanks to some friends of ours who let us use their family beach house.  We had a fabulous time which, as usual, ended too soon.  Good thing we have another beach vacay just around the corner!

If sap makes you gag, you may want to skip this next section and scroll down to the pictures as I plan on gushing about my husband a bit :)  We've really known each other for about ten years.  Because he was friends with my besties and roomies Steph and Chels in college, it was natural that we'd all hang out.  Within a year or so, we found ourselves wanting to spend more and more time together.  At the end of my sophomore year, he asked me to our spring banquet, which we say marked our first real date.  About 15 months later, in August of 2004, we were engaged and on June 18, 2005, we were married.

I've never known a kinder person than Robby.  I joke that sometimes he's a little too kind!  Whenever I'd want to gripe about a person or situation, he'd listen and try to be understanding but rarely join in with my anger and frustration.  I know now his gentle responses are a good thing -- I often don't need fuel for my fires!  (And if you're wondering, I feel my fires are fewer now.)  He's consistent, faithful, and selfless, qualities I treasure more than anything.  And he loves me -- a lot.

Of course, not everything has been perfect.  (What -- you're not surprised?)  Our biggest challenges have come from being in ministry and more recently struggling with infertility.  But we've walked through it together, coming out a bit stronger each time and growing in our faithfulness.  I've loved our six years together and look forward to another least.

Okay, back to our trip: We spent two nights in Grover Beach and from there visited Pismo (before the crazy Car Show began), Avila, Shell, and SLO.  Here are a few highlights.  (Cue romantic music in background.)
This is just past Avila, a little dock area called Port San Luis where we spent some time on Friday.  It was beautiful and made beach camping look pretty fun.  Perhaps we'll try it someday!
Shell Beach, but sadly there weren't many shells around here.
Enjoying our special anniversary lunch in Avila.  Pizza, of course :)
We were really excited about this bike ride we stumbled upon, the Bob Jones Bike Trail.  It takes you next to the Avila Golf Club and along a nice hilly road where there is a spectacular view of the ocean.  We didn't do the whole ride -- our cruisers aren't really made for mountains -- but what we did was super fun.
Ice cream, of course.  This was called Motor Oil and consisted of a super dark chocolate ice cream with Kahlua and fudge swirls.  Delicious!
Our final anniversary meal: Clam chowder from Splash Cafe in SLO
It was a great trip with lovely weather, fun shopping, good food, and, of course, fabulous company.  What a lucky girl I am!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tidbits Tuesday

1.  I made Kelly's cinnamon scones, and they are delicious!  We were both excited to use these cinnamon bits from King Arthur Flour, so with 1/4 cup of that and some extra spices, these turned out fantastic.
2.  Other cooking adventures this week included home-made pretzels that my mom and I attempted (and sadly I burned), ATK's cinnamon rolls, a roasted chicken (my second good), and chicken stock, which tasted more like chicken flavored water.  Bummer...but I'm not giving up!  I'll try again another time.

3.  We ventured over to Farmer's Market on Thursday and enjoyed burritos and snow cones.  Ben and Steph were supposed to meet us but got a flat tire on the way!  Luckily, a park wasn't too far from where they were stranded, and it was still relatively cool, so with a few cupcakes from The Frosted Muffin (is it sad that I bought these after we knew they needed help??), we made the most of it.  

4.  My early crop of tasties has come!  The question is...Is this a dinner plate with giant potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes? Or a salad plate with miniature tates, berries, and tomaters?  I'm not gonna tell...but I will say these were the very best potatoes I have ever eaten.  Who knew taters could be so creamy and delicious?

5.  Steph S. and I were so happy to get to spend time with Chelsea, who was visiting this week!  So glad you came, Chels, and looking forward to seeing you again!  

6.  And finally, summer is here.  It was 97 today.  Hot!  And no longer is our backyard a nice quiet place to drink coffee in the morning.  Summer means no school, which means the neighbor kids are out at the break of dawn screaming--I mean, playing.

Have a happy Tuesday and a happy week!  Stay cool!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jerry!

Today is my father-in-law's 60th birthday!  Here are a few pictures from our early celebration last weekend:
Delicious brunch with all of our favorites
I think Jerry needed more warning for this picture!
Lovely flowers
Gathered around the table
There are sixty candles on that cake!  Just look at that thing glow!
Opening our gift -- It's a...
Hammock!  (Thanks, Robby, for modeling it!)
We found the perfect spot for it.  Now that's the way to celebrate sixty years of life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tidbits Tuesday

1.  The Breaking Dawn trailer is here!  It seems every time I think I'm over (I use that term loosely) Twilight, something pulls me right back in.  I suppose there is a bit of genius behind dragging the whole saga out like they did, although I really don't appreciate the fact that it will be nearly a year and a half from now until the last one comes out.  Don't they know that the twenty-somethings who began the series years ago don't want to be in their thirties by the time they watch the last one?!

2.  Last week, Stephanie and I ventured over to Farmer's Market and splurged on a few things, like the Cinnamonster pictured below.  A freshly baked giant cinnamon roll with home-made glaze?  Yes, please!  It was our dessert that night after enjoying pizza and a Farmer's Market salad.  The baker said she uses only a cup of sugar for the whole thing, but I made up for it with extra icing.

3.  We had an early birthday celebration for Jerry on Saturday.  I love how everyone is involved in lighting the candles.

4.  My new white hydrangea has blooms!  I can't wait for this thing to be all flowered out.  My pink ones aren't doing much, but I suppose they have all summer still.

5.  Right now, I am attempting sourdough bread number 2.  I've added a few tasty extras to the dough, so I'm anxious to see how it turns out.

6.  The new X-Men movie is great.  Go and see it!

Have a happy Tuesday, all!

Monday, June 6, 2011

October, is that you?

We are experiencing some serious June Gloom right now, which is not too common for the Central Valley.  We had a ton of rain last night and cooler weather this morning, and it seems more may be on its way if the dark clouds outside can be trusted.  I find myself looking forward to fall and dreaming of big white pumpkins (which I'm hoping these baby pumpkin vines will turn into), and summer hasn't even come yet!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

For the Bride

A couple of weeks ago, my mom asked me if I would make one of my ruffly aprons for a friend of hers whose daughter is getting married.  Unfortunately, I was in the midst of preparing for the Divine Boutique, so I had to put it on hold.  Perhaps it was a good thing, though, because while my time was taken up in other ways, my mom was given a ton of this beautiful white material.  We put it to good use: I spent the last couple of days working on a lovely but completely impractical white apron for this bride-to-be.  Afterall, a new bride needs to look amazing when she's doing all things, even whipping up some pancakes in the morning.

It took nearly the same amount of time to make and add all the flowers as it did to sew the whole thing.  The flowers, by the way, are really easy to make: Simply cut out a circle of fabric, sew a long, loose stitch along the edges, pull tight, and it will all bunch up to look like a flower.  You can tuck the insides in or even stitch with the edge tucked in, but I left it open to give even more ruffles.  (These are technically called "yo-yo's," if you want to look them up.)

Here are a few pictures.  I wish I would have taken one of me modeling this thing because I looked like a big frosted cupcake!  Perhaps my favorite part is the giant bow in the back.

Friday, June 3, 2011


This week, I got suckered in to trying a new scone recipe.  I don't know why I do this.  I suppose I find something that sounds great and think, This just might be the winning recipe in my life!  I must try it!  Usually, all it ends up doing is wasting very valuable ingredients.
I tried these blackberry scones from Savvy Housekeeping, and although they looked pretty, they were a flop.  They tasted more like a muffin that has had the sugar cut from the recipe.  This led me to immediately get a hold of Kelly and ask for her scone recipe out of her Sur La Tables baking book, which we tried when I was visiting last time.  These were amazing and super easy since you can do them in a food processor.  Hardly any mess!

Cream Scones

2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg for an egg wash or use cream for the top of the scone
Sugar on top!

Preheat oven to 425 and position oven rack in the center. Line baking sheet with parchment. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 10 seconds to blend well. Add the cold butter and pulse 5 times at 1 second intervals, or until the butter is cut into medium sized pieces. Add the cream and pulse another 20 times or until the dough hold together in small, thick clumps. Use a spatula to scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently squeeze the clumps together until they form a cohesive dough. (I always skip that part and just squeeze it in my hands.)

Pat the dough into a circle 7 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Use a chef's knife to cut the dough into 8 equal wedges and transfer to the prepared baking sheet spacing them 2 inches apart. 

Brush the top with a thin coating of a lightly beaten egg (or more cream) and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake the scones for 14-16 minutes, until firm to the touch and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. 

The "rules" to make up your own scone variation: 

1) To add dried fruits or nuts: Add 1/2 cup. You can add one cup but that will make the scones thicker and will take a few extra minutes to bake. Always cut the butter in first, then add the fruit, nuts, or chocolate pieces, then cream, then blend. 
2) Spices or zests: use between 1/2 to 1 teaspoon and these get mixed in with the dry ingredients. 
3) Oils and extracts: use a few drops for oils and 1/2 to 3/4 for extracts. these should be added with the liquid. 
4) Different types of flours can be used, just substitute 1/4 of the entire flour amount. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Banana Bread with a Twist

If "with a twist" makes you think of a mixed drink, you're on the right track for this recipe!  This banana bread gets a little kick from a couple of tablespoons of brandy added in, which develops the flavor and gives an overall richness.  Give it a try!
The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, with just minor adjustments by me.

4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 beaten egg
1 - 2 T brandy
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 - 1 t allspice
1 1/2 cups flour

Mix butter into mashed bananas.  Mix in sugar, egg, vanilla, and brandy.  Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.  Add flour last, mix.  Pour into small loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Note: This is yummy out of the oven, for sure, but the flavor really goes up a notch once it's sat in the fridge for a day.  I've been eating it cold, straight out of the fridge, with a bit of butter.  Delicious!

Note 2: This is not your typical banana-nut bread, so make it and expect something different and great!