Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflecting on 2009

The few waining hours of 2009 are here. I am sitting in a bed, looking out a huge sliding door, looking out over a majestic mountain chain covered in snow. Growing up in South Texas, snow is a big deal to me. It has snowed at home 2 times in my lifetime, and this is the longest time I have ever spent in the cold.

The older I get the faster times goes. I remember my mom telling me that as a child, now I realize how true her words were. Life goes by so fast, and if you blink, you miss it.

Like every year, 2009 has had its ups and downs, and I think that I will write this one down in the record books as being one of the best I have ever had. Like a fine wine, I like to think that I too will get better with age. People always talk about the college years and being the best of your life, and that really saddens me. I don't want to think that the 4 years I spent in school were the pinnacle of my life. I feel like the best is yet to come, and I keep plugging along believing that tomorrow will be better than today. So yes, I will mark 2009 as a success, hopefully, just one check mark in a long line of successful years.

My highlights from the year:

P and I discovered Dave Ramsey, went to his program, and with a lot of hard work became debt free!! The chains and weight of debt are gone from our life and it brought so much peace with it.

I managed to mark 2 things off my bucket list, one of which I thought I would never do. I ran a marathon, which was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I never thought I would have the strength, determination, and ability to do one, but I did it!!! And I learned to ski. I am on vacay right now and I have loved learning how to ski. (I will fill all of you in on our trip later.)

I feel like I have changed and matured this year. I started the year wanting and praying for a way to love others better, especially P. I really wanted to focus on serving and loving him well, and I have spent the year trying to really listen and understand who he is, and how I can love him better. I hope that I have learned to love everyone in my life better as well.
I started this blog. I never thought I would blog but it has been a great outlet for me. It forces me to become more open, and share my thoughts and feelings, something that can be hard for me to do at times.
I reconnected with me. I spent a lot of time this year really sitting down and figuring out who I am and what I like, dislike, and what my interests are. I gained back confidence that I had once lost, and I feel like a stronger woman than I was just 365 days ago.
I discovered that I have a passion for cooking. Cooking can be seen as something that you have to do, and some days it is just that, it is just food. But other days, it can be an outlet to express your feelings. Food can bring hope, comfort, and joy. Some of lifes most exciting moments have taken place around a dinner table. That is how we connect, celebrate, and show our love to others. I want to continue to discover the joy and art of cooking.
Travel. I used to get travel anxiety. Whenever I went somewhere I would stress out, and worry about the flight, about getting home on time, or about what I would do when I was there. Now I have learned to relax, and enjoy a trip and the anticipation of the trip. I learned to stop and enjoy the moment and experience and decorate my life with those memories. I think P has really influenced me in this area. He has shown me how to capture the moment and enjoy the journey.
So that is it. I hope that you all have a fab. New Year! See ya in 2010, a whole new decade. WOW!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Its a Maine thing

This morning I left my house in Texas and it was a balmy 50 degrees. Tonight I am 2206.50 miles away from home, in Maine with temperatures in the low 20's. We are up in the mountains and there is a storm "a bruin" so we could possibly lose power tonight. Hopefully the storm will bring some snow and we can hit the slopes in the morning. This is my first time skiing so I am excited and a bit nervous. I am sure there will be times this week where my pride, ego, and bum will be hurt, but I am going to take it in stride and do my very best!
Once again tonight I am going to bed with my tank full and my heart bursting. Being around people I love has a way of energizing me and making me remember what is truly important.

One more thing--I am famous, sort of. I was interviewed by a news reporter this afternoon when we landed. He was asking me questions about airline security and if I felt safe after what happened earlier this week in Detroit. So yes it is true, living the fabulous life of a celebrity is extremely hard, but hey some body's got to do it. :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

The most wonderful time

I can't believe that I am laying here in my bed typing on Christmas night. I know everyone feels this way, but where did the time go? Where did this year go? Life seems to be flying by faster and faster the older I get. Especially this time of year. There is so much anticipation and build up for Christmas day, and then it is over. That is why I love how we do Christmas here at my house.
First, I fly home, (a quick 45 minute flight) and spend a few extra days hanging out with my family, while P is working, and he just drives down a few days later. It is so much fun getting to spend more time at home with my parents. We shop, cook, talk, eat. All in all it is great fun. But, the real fun starts on Christmas eve day. One thing that my family does that I did not realize is different from other families until P and I got married is our Christmas Eve dinner. Every year we have Christmas Eve dinner (lunch) at my grandma's house. Every year we eat the exact same meal, shrimp gumbo, and grandma's chocolate cake. My grandmother is Cajun French, and she speaks in broken English. She is this short little French woman, who is funny, sharp, and set in her ways. Her brother, my great uncle, still lives in Louisiana on their family farm. Unlike my grandmother, he is unable to speak English. He only speaks Cajun French. In French, the word for uncle is Frie (I think), but my dad could never say it, so he just called him Uncle Pie, and the name stuck. So all of my life, he has been Uncle Pie. It is so fun to hear my grandmother talk to her baby brother. They just rattle off Cajun to each other and laugh. She still likes to boss him around and tell him what is good for him. My grandmother is 86 and making gumbo has become difficult for her, so the last few years my mom has made it here at our house, and then we drive it over to her house for dinner.
This year, I decided to help my mom make the gumbo. It is pretty easy, just time consuming. Here is the recipe for the roux, which is the base.
1/4 cup of oil
1 and 1/2 cup of flour
1 stalk onions.
You get your oil blazing hot, then add the flour. You stir it continually until it is the color of mud, then you add the onion, then continue to cook until it is almost black. But, you must cook it on a medium heat, because if you burn any part of the roux, it will taste horrible.
Then you add water, and whatever else you want. We have shrimp at Christmas time, but you can add duck, chicken, sausage, and any veggies you like.
The smell of gumbo transports me. It is the ultimate smell of comfort to me because the smell reminds me of my grandmother. Whenever I am missing that woman, all I need is a scent of gumbo to have memories rushing back.
Where was I? Right, after dinner then we open presents with my grandma, and my cousins. We leave grandma's go home, go to church, then wake up Christmas morning. About 5 years ago, we decided that we would not open presents in the morning any more because we would wake up, rush through, and then have to get to work. We have Christmas day meal here at my parents house and my mom always has to rush into the kitchen to get to work, so we wake up, lounge around, then get to cooking.
After dinner, we go out into the back yard and play some lawn games with the family, then it is inside and movie time. After the movie everyone heads home and we clean up the house, shower, turn on the fire, get into our comfy p.j.'s and do Christmas with just us. It is so exciting, because all day long I look at the tree and see the presents and the anticipation just builds and builds and at times it seems like I can't take it any more, but I still have to wait. It is so exciting. P says this is where my inner child comes out. I like to stretch out the surprise. I like holding on to that feeling of excitement for as long as possible. It is the feeling of anticipation and surprise that I love. I get so excited about presents because they mean so much to me. When someone goes out, spends their hard earned money, and spends their time picking something up just for me, it means so much to me. And I want to make it last.
So here I am at almost 11 pm in my bed in my childhood room. My husband to my left with a pillow over his face to block out the light from my lamp, and my dog on the floor to my right, snoring softly and dreaming. My parents are sound asleep in the next room just a few feet away from here. Right now, in this moment, life for me is as close to perfect as it can get. There are a few other family members missing in this equation that could not be here today, but this is my dream come true. I told my mom today, before we opened our presents, that I had so much fun today, that I didn't even need any presents. Good friends, family, and food were more than enough to fill my tank.
I am constantly being reminded that it is not the things in life that make it beautiful and full, it is the people in it. I have blogged about it so many times, but it is so true.
I hope yall all had a wonderful Christmas with your families.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Book Review: Velvet Elvis

I was given the book Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell to read. It is absolutely amazing. In the book, Bell attempts to "repaint the way we see Christianity." The book captivated me from the 1st chapter, which was entitled "Jump." Bell compares Christianity with a trampoline that he and his sons jump on. He states that the springs on a trampoline to doctrine and they are necessary, but the object of the trampoline is to jump. He then states " I am far more interested in jumping than I am about arguing whose trampoline is better. You rarely defend the things you love. You enjoy them and tell others about them and invite others to enjoy them with you."
His words had a profound effect on me. I don't want to argue with people, I want them to taste and see that the Lord is good. Living for him is thrilling, exciting, tiring, hard, exhilarating, and wonderful, all at the same time.
So come and jump with me!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cooking Lessons Learned

Last night cooking with my friend was a ton of fun. She chose the recipe and all we had to do was pick up the ingredients. She chose Beef Bourguignon because there were a lot of components and there was a lot to do in order to make the dish, which gave ample opportunity for teaching and learning.
Before I get to the tips I learned, I must say that my favorite part of the whole process was learning to get the full flavor from some basic foods. The dish had a huge dept of flavor and with each bite, I could pick out the individual flavors, which came together to make an amazing dish.

Here is what I learned:
1. How to hold a knife properly. When you hold a knife your knuckle should be over the bottom of the blade itself. That way you have more control over your knife and less chance of slipping and cutting yourself. (She told me they spent 2 whole weeks just learning to chop veggies, wow!!!)
2. That you can never chop fresh herbs enough. In school her instructor told them that if you have to ask if it is fine enough, it is not, so don't ask!
3. I learned how much flavor you can get from cooking foods correctly.
4. Mis en place is the basis for many dishes.
5. When cooking onions, they need to be cooked longer than any other veggies to get their full flavor
6. Cooking with a small amount of fat is ok, it really brings out flavor
7. When you add good wine to food, you can really pick up the flavor of the wine in the sauce
8. Reduction-- cooking out the water to get the full flavor of the sauce
9. Adding a small amount of flour to meat before you cook it protects the meat
10. Cooking can be so much fun!!!

Once again the thing that struck me the most was how much flavor you can get when cooking whole foods correctly. We cooked onions, carrots, and celery as the base of our dish for flavor, and the intensity of these really basic foods was intoxicating. We did not have to throw in any spices from our spice rack because we let the fullness of these ingredients do the talking.

We all had fun, and we decided last night we will have to do it again. If anyone wants the recipe let me know. I will be happy to post it!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cooking Lesson

In the last few months I have found a new interest, cooking. I started watching this show called top chef and have become obsessed. I get so excited every Wednesday night to watch these top chefs make some amazing food. It looks so good and I want to know how to do that.
So tonight I have a friend coming over to our house to give P and I some cooking lessons. She graduated from culinary school about a year ago and has been managing a restaurant since then. I can not wait to learn some tips that will help me become a better cook. I will defiantly have to share all I learn with yall.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My New Companions

So I have 2 new companions, crutches. And they are no fun.
While I was training for my marathon I developed a wart on the ball of my right foot. It has been extremely painful for the last several months. So finally on Monday I went to the podiatrist and he told me that I had 2 options. He could use an acid or cut it out. When he looked at it, he determined that it would be best to cut it out. He numbed my foot and did the "procedure." What is left is a massive crater in my foot, it looks like something that you would find on the moon. Plus, it hurts every time I take a step. I started trying to walk on the side of my foot, then it caused pain in my shin. So I started trying to walk on my heel, but that was really weird and uncomfortable. So now I am on crutches. I feel like a dork when I use them, especially as I walked into the restaurant tonight and I slipped and almost busted it. So I am in some pain and I have not been able to work out for 3 days now and I am tired of my foot hurting.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


The court house all lit up. The picture does not do it justice, because it really is beautiful
The town square, which is actually a circle all lit up.

This is a picture of P holding some wassil.

I live in a funny little German town. We like to celebrate a lot. Last month we had Wurstfest, which is a 10 day salute to beer and sausage. Men don their lederhosen and women put on their wench dress and they try beer from around the world and sasuage galore. They raise a ton of money, donate it all to charity, and start planning again for next year.

Thursday night we had Wassifest. This is my favorite town event of the whole year. They shut down the town square and the surrounding streets and all the local businesses prepare wassil, which is basically warm apple cider. So you walk up and down the street tasting wassil and talking to people. It is so much fun. Then you pick up a card and vote on who had the best wassil and the store they wins gets the bragging rights for the year. It is so much fun to go and see the town all lit up with Christmas lights. It is the perfect way to ring in the Christmas season.