I’m Still Here!

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Hello, readers. It has been over a month now since I have posted and I want to assure you that I have not fallen off of the map. We have had a very busy Spring (plenty of moving, travel, running, and time with friends). And as much as I wanted to update this regularly, it just took the back burner. I look forward to rethinking this space and forming a blog I use regularly–one that is edifying and engaging.

But these things will not come today.

I am six weeks away from completing my school year, and I cannot wait! There are many hobbies I want to pick up when that final bell rings, one of which is this blog.

I look forward to sharing with you soon!

[the above picture is from the Charlottesville Marathon that Ben (26.2) and I (13.1) ran earlier this month]

in transition

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Today, I left work a long couple of hours after the bell signaled the students’ eager exit. On the way home, I dropped off Ben’s lone pair of clean slacks to the dry cleaners (we have a wedding on Saturday). Then I returned the keys to our two-bedroom apartment this evening.

After downing a quesadilla, I lopped off a piece of dark chocolate and smuggled it into Starbucks. An Americano sounded good, so I ordered a tall.

I’ve been a little harried lately with work and the move from our apartment of seven months. A pile of ungraded assignments from Shakespeare to Poetry to Vocabulary Quizzes and finally, a beastly stack of 100 research papers have been eyeing me for over a week now. After an accelerated move in a few short days, our new house is a maze of boxes, with everything shut up except the essentials.

I don’t really have time to write a blog post. I’m too harried.

But isn’t it right now just when my soul needs to stop and be still?

–What is true? What is excellent? What is praiseworthy?–

The Lord is faithful – He brought us here in His perfect timing.

He knows my frame – He knows all of the tasks that clamor for attention.

He is worthy of praise from a joyful heart – will I echo David and say, “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise will continually be on my lips”?

So, by His grace, I’ll keep these things in mind as I savor the last swallows of Americano and grind out a few grades.

liking lately

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It’s been a while since I’ve rattled off some recent interests. Here it goes!

Ina Garten’s Chicken Chili – tried and true and so easy to doctor – simmering on the stove

My new niece, Clementine! Read about her grand entrance here.

Ben bought me this calligraphy book for Christmas – I’m hoping to craft some cards and maybe some prints like the one above from BWPrints

Shakespearean Insults demystified – this video was helpful in my Shakespeare lesson at school this week

Brain Pickings – a site full of factoids and interesting articles, such as : How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

Quirky covers by Pomplamoose – especially Mr. Sandman

Have a great week, friends!

{image above via}

flip flops

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It’s funny how we can maintain a relationship with the little things that accompany us on our journeys without really acknowledging their existence. I could mention my little Honda I’ve had for six years, those dark-wash Express jeans I wore  throughout high school, or the paraphernalia that hitches a ride to every residence I’ve taken up in the last several years.

While staring down at my wriggling, freshly-painted toes last week, I was reminded about my affinity for my pair of blue and white Speedo sandals.

When I first purchased them as a “must-have” for college dorm life, I grabbed the first and cheapest pair I could find at the store. I intended to replace them with more attractive ones but soon grew accustomed to them, and realized that if there were any time to make a fashion statement, traipsing to and from the loo was not the occasion.

So they escorted me to college in 2003: I wore them as I flip flopped my way to one of the dorm’s community bathrooms – the kind with multiple upright showers and brown checkered tile floors.  I would wrap up in my terry cloth robe and squeak back to my room to dry off.

They followed me to Kanakuk Sports Kamp in Shell Knob, Missouri during the summer of 2006. Carrying my feet down several wooden steps, across rock laden ground into a line filled with adolescent girls jostling for a quick rinse, they fortified my frightened feet as cold water blasted from above; they took me back up the stairs and settled into their place at the foot of my bunk.

And now, as I nest in my first apartment as a newly wed, my sandals remain. They sit patiently on the bath mat outside the curtain while i scrub soap on my skin, lather up shampoo and conditioner, cut off the shower and whip my towel around me – repeating unintelligible outbursts like “brrrrr” and “socoldsocoldsocold” until my towel rubs off the frigid frenzy – I slip my toes between the sandals’ straps, scurry into my room, and fish out some warm havens for my feet.

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Never pretentious, never vying for the spotlight or tugging at my pant leg for a trip to work or a venture to the mall. They know that when I kick off my heels, my leather boots, and my strappy numbers, my feet long for their familiar comfort. While my other shoes break down from much love and use or are edited out of the lineup, these sidekicks make the moving box every time.

Here’s to another ten years!

richmond: the village cafe

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While enjoying an unseasonably warm Saturday in Richmond city, Ben and I stopped in for lunch at a little sports bar/diner famous for its onion rings and milkshakes called the Village Cafe.

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After the waitress brought us water in individual little pitchers, we ordered sandwiches and a side of onion rings.

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Let’s just take a moment for these onion rings. These hefty beauties were a meal in themselves! Thick slices of onions covered in a thick, crunchy layer of batter…Ben can attest that I had to stop and close my eyes a couple of times to take it all in. They were that good.

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Of course, we had to order a chocolate shake, which came in a galvanized container straight from the shake machine. Thick and rich, it could easily have sated four people, but we managed to down almost the whole thing ourselves!

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My BLT and Ben’s Reuben were mediocre, so we said when we return, we should just order rings and shakes and call it good!

smitten kitchen: stuffed shells

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Over my Christmas break, I tore through my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, gobbling up the drool-inducing food photography (see some of her work here), the anecdotes like this one, on page 167

“I’d like to tell you that I’m just brimming with self-awareness, but, alas, there’s so much evidence to the contrary–pretty much every boyfriend I had from eighteen to twenty-seven and a shiny orange duvet that burned our eyeballs for six weeks before I admitted what a bad purchase it was and stuffed it in a closet where it still lives today–that I wont’ bother [….] But what I really want to talk about is this salad. “

and the recipes (“tiny but intense chocolate cake”, “grapefruit olive oil pound cake”, “buttered popcorn cookies”, “pancetta, white bean, and swiss chard pot pies”, “baked ranchero eggs with blistered jack cheese and lime crema”). An admirer of the author’s blog, I was elated to receive a hard copy that houses some of her classics.

With Ben’s birthday right on the heels of the holidays, I was still reeling from a busy break and getting back in teaching gear. Nevertheless, I wanted to make his day special, and I knew that that involved a birthday dinner entree involving either a chowder of some kind or copious amounts of cheese with some pasta. When perusing my cookbooks, I returned to one I had earmarked in the Smitten Kitchen: “heart-stuffed shells in lemon ricotta bechamel” and gave it a go.

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These are not your usual stuffed shells (ricotta-mozzarella blend, covered in red cause and more cheese). The lemon and artichoke hearts sliced through the heavy sauce, creating a satisfyingly balanced end product.  Ben helped me stuff the shells while I poured on the bechamel sauce at the end. Then, after an agonizing 45 minutes, we devoured more than our share of this blistered, creamy and flavorful dish, stealing extra bits of bechamel out of the pan here and there. Ben praised it as “delicious” and “awesome” and we affectionately dubbed it a fine addition to our guest dinner entree repertoire.

More recipes from Smitten Kitchen are sure to come!

 

 

 

quiet

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Something I am asking the Lord to cultivate in me this year is a quiet spirit. An awareness of His all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving sufficiency. A spirit of love where there is fear. A spirit of utter trust where there is doubt and anxiety. I am planning to focus on my work day, since it is often during the day that I am anxious. As I dialogue with the Lord throughout the school day, I want to practice taking deep breaths and whispering words of sincere gratitude and trust.

As my students amble towards my door and I offer a smile and hand to greet them. Breathe. I trust you, Lord.

As the class settles in to complete their first activity and I stop over to my computer and take attendance. Breathe. Thank you, Lord.

As I direct and discipline and encourage and share. Breathe. I am yours, Lord.

As I glance at the folders of student work that keeps filling up. Breathe. You are sufficient, Lord.

As I plan and prepare for the next day’s work.  Breathe. You are my father, Lord. 

I am eager for the Lord to meet me and guide me as I venture into this next semester of teaching.

{the print above is from the Etsy shop graceforgrace )

holidays 2012

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Ben and I spent the last two weeks traveling and spending time with loved ones for the holidays. First, we visited Ben’s family near Traverse City, Michigan. We played games, worked on a puzzle, made a massive snow turtle in the yard, watched Christmas movies, and ate Ben’s mom’s delicious from-scratch food.

Then on Christmas day, we made the three-hour trek to Kalamazoo, where my family Christmas celebration was in full swing. There we opened presents, played games, watched It’s a Wonderful Life, grazed on goodies, and then landed at my brother and sister-in-law’s (Dan and Kristin’s) house to crash. We spent time with each of my siblings who made it home: toured Isaac’s work and grabbed lunch with him and Sara, visited Nate and Laura’s house where we ate a quick dinner and played a couple rounds of Mad Gab (during which I doubled over laughing) before heading to the theater to see Les Miserables! On our last night in Kalamazoo, our hosts served us Three-Alarm Chili with Cornbread (spicy and spectacular!) and beat us handedly at Trivial Pursuit.

On the way back to Richmond, we stopped in and reconnected with Gary and Janet Friesen, friends from Indiana, and learned about their new granddaughter and Gary’s penchant for bluegrass instrumentation.  When our Honda reached Cincinnati, we were warmly greeted by our friends, the Ferrell’s. Julie and Addison, who Ben befriended while attending Duke, had a beautiful little girl last April named Lydia. We had a sweet time visiting with them: playing wizard and 42, eating Graeter’s ice cream (the blackberry chip was unrivaled), stopping in at a local waffle restaurant, watching The Scarlet Pimpernel (sink me!), and talking about how we are adjusting to life’s transitions.

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Then, we journeyed back home to Richmond, where we promptly picked up my sister, Amy, from the airport. She stayed with us over New Years! We ambled around the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, went ice skating down town, drank champagne,  shopped some consignment stores, drove my commute to work, played several rounds of Scattergories, and swapped updates on life. There is no one who makes me laugh quite like Amy – what a joy she is in my life!

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Now we are getting back into the swing of things. Thankful for the break — excited about a brand new year!

To Kill a Mockingbird: Southern Food Feast

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My freshmen classes just wrapped up Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. To celebrate finishing the novel and semester, we watched the 1963 film version of Lee’s classic and students brought in food inspired by the book. Set in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s, the book was rife with southern food references, such as biscuits, lane cake, sweet tea, fried chicken, and much more (click here for an extensive list). I hung a sign-up sheet for students to bring as little or as much as desired for our class party. I was encouraged by the kids’ participation! One student met me at my door in the morning with a huge, plastic bowl of fried chicken. Others were eager to offer pound cake and fudge. After covering the windows with make-shift paper curtains and setting up the buffet table, we gathered some goodies and sat down to watch Gregory Peck play a mean Atticus Finch.

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What a fun way to end the semester. Two marking periods down – two more to go!

thankful

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for family in Michigan: sharing turkey and trivial pursuit and laughing with my siblings

for loved ones in Indiana: eating delicious stuffing and spending my first Thanksgiving as a part of Ben’s family