October 28, 2010

The Practice of the Presence of God

The combination of good friends, food and conversation is good for the soul. Often churches (including mine) organize small groups that meet throughout the week in people's homes to talk more about a sermon or study the bible and pray together. Groups like these are great and they can add great value, but this year, for a number of reasons, joining one just wasn't in the cards for me. 

But, that doesn't excuse me from community. And just letting community happen isn't enough either. We need to plan intentional times of community. Times to honestly share our lives with people who can know us, encourage us and hold us accountable. 

Enter the Christian Ladies' Book Club. It's a corny name. We know, but it's what we are. Five girl friends who get together once a month over lunch to discuss God and our lives and how the two of them intersect. We've just gotten started and yesterday was our first lunch together. Our book for October was The Practice of the Presense of God by Brother Lawrence. 

It was an interesting book. I didn't like it when I was reading it, but, with time and a little digesting, it's grown on me. Brother Lawrence talks a lot about how to engage with God all day no matter what you're doing - being constantly in conversation with God. What an awesome idea. The truth is that I often get so busy with work or play and I forget all about God outside of the few minutes I dedicate to him when I wake up or before I go to bed. It was a great reminder that He is always there, in everything I do. There isn't anything too trivial to bring God into. God is there in the quotidian everyday details of life and He'd love to share even the seemingly boring moments that make up most of our lives if we'd just invite him in.

October 26, 2010

Eiffel in love...

...with this super cute mug rug!

Do you not adore this fabric? I do. It combines so many of the things I love - Eiffel towers, pretty flowery patterns, teal, green. Really. I love it. It's just in time for winter, a.k.a. warm drink season and makes my desk feel so cozy.

It's nice to have a super crafty friend who is willing to share the pretty things she makes. Apparently mug rugs are all the rage these days. I had no idea, but now that I'm in the know, I'm jumping right on the band wagon. Check out some other great mug rug ideas here, here and here.

October 23, 2010

Fall Means Pumpkin and Pumpkin Means Cupcakes

Sshhhh... I'm about to share my secret weapon of easy recipes with you. Are you ready?

1 can pumpkin


1 box cake mix, any flavor. (Just the mix. No eggs, oil, etc)

Mix together.

Seriously. That's it. You can't even taste the pumpkin really. I use chocolate and spice cake mixes most often. Spice is the perfect fall treat and a nice pumpkin-complementary flavor. Chocolate is, well, chocolate. It's perfect in it's own right.

Last week I tried this out with a deluxe carrot cake mix. It was ok on it's own. It really needed some cream cheese icing. Then it was pretty tasty. And, even thought the carrot cake option is far from my favorite, the post-dinner plateful still managed to disappear.

October 21, 2010

The Simple Life

I find myself in a unique position these days. I love my life. It is full of wonderful things: a family of friends, a man that I love, a job that's about the Gospel, a church family that is on mission, a lovely home to call my own, I could go on (and on). On the other hand, life is complicated. All these good things take time, lots of time, and I find that the margin of my life is getting slimmer and slimmer.

I've been blaming the fuzzy lines in my life for this complexity lately - my job that is my church that pushes against my relationship with God and my boyfriend that's also a colleague and my best friend whose husband is kind of my boss. See. It's complicated. I'm sure that some of the lack of simplicity in my life is from those things, but I don't think that's the real culprit. It's a given that I could be better about balancing the various boundaries in my schedule (work vs. play and friends), but I think it's something much deeper that I'm looking for and I don't think that just rearranging the time slots on my calendar is going to meet my craving.

It's space I'm looking for. This weekend I was out of town at my brother's wedding in Sainte Genevieve, MO. We were in the middle of nowhere surrounded by rolling hills filled with trees on fire with the colors of autumn. We walked the town and stopped to talk with the ladies of the local quilting bee. We sampled apple butter and stopped on the side of the road to watch an unexpected tractor parade roll through town. There was no rush. No deadlines. No email. I found myself daydreaming of a life where my schedule was set by the sun, where I grew my own food and churned my own butter, filled with evening around the fire with friends and family.

It's an idyllic picture of the simple life. And, it's not really the answer. The reality has to be somewhere in the middle, but I don't know how to get there.

October 19, 2010

Welcome to the Family

This weekend I gained a sister! She's the best and we are so glad to have her officially be part of our family. I couldn't have asked for a better woman for my brother and it was a joy to celebrate with them.

They reserved a gorgeous Bed & Breakfast in Sainte Genevieve, MO. The weather was perfect and autumn was in full swing. Beautiful. 

The town was also celebrating their Heritage Days on Saturday. They went big style with a tractor parade and live music. 

Next time you're there, don't miss Nana's Kitchen. It doesn't look like much but Nana knows what she's doing. Biscuits and gravy. Yum. 

Perfect weekend.

October 12, 2010

To plan or not to plan?

In my real life, I'm a planner. I like lists and times and punctuality. I like to know what my day holds before I pour my first cup of coffee. Hiding under all my day planners and sticky notes is a spontaneous alter ego. I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants traveller at heart.

When I was in college I spent my junior year studying abroad in Angers, France. Saying I studied abroad is a bit loose on language, as I spent most of my time galavanting around Europe, drinking coffee and sleeping on trains. When I was planning to leave for the year I was anxious. There was so much I wanted to do while I was there, but I had no idea how to plan for it and what was worse, I didn't even know where to start planning. I let myself become totally overwhelmed with the idea of a weekend in Paris or Spain before I even left Missouri.

When I set foot on French soil a beautiful thing happened. I stopped worrying. I gave up on planning and just set out for an adventure. That year was my most satisfying lesson in letting go of control. I'm not saying that my nerves didn't get the better of me (and my fingernails) now and again, but I have no regrets. I lived while I was there and have more than a handful of interesting stories to show for it.

And, I'm itching to go back...I guess I should start planning a trip.

October 10, 2010

Liquid Love

In honor of my favorite season, I'm going to tell you about other things I love. On today's docket - drinks!

It's sad, but true. Diet Dr. Pepper is my favorite. I love it. I love it on hot summer days. I love it on cold winter mornings. Anytime, anywhere Diet Dr. Pepper is always a winner. I know what you're saying. It's not good for me. I'll rot my teeth. And, my goodness, the high fructose corn syrup! You're not telling me anything I don't already know. I'm just telling you that I love it in spite of it's imperfections (read: health risks) and nothing is coming in between me and my soda.

It's the best part of waking up. It's coffee. Some brilliant, wonderful person many years ago saw potential in  the little brown bean that now makes our world go round. Of course, it's my position that the French are the masters in the coffee arena. Sidewalk caf├ęs, strong, hot, black expresso. Done deal. Where's my plane ticket? Stateside, I'll have to settle for a French Press and the best beans my budget will allow.

Last, but, oh not at all, least, is the Gin Martini. That's right. Dry Gin Martini extra olives, please. I feel like I should be the heroine in a classic 1950's black and white movie with Cary Grant every time I drink one. In St. Louis, the best can be found at The Royale. Ask for Plymouth Gin and extra kalamata olives or, if you're looking for something a little lighter try The New Deal martini - Amazing!

October 8, 2010


Two certain someones just found out about this little corner of cyberspace and, I'll admit, I was a little nervous at first. This is the place where my thoughts are most likely to be uncensored. Yipes. Oh well, they know me and love me anyway.

One of them even stopped by the office today with a surprise bag of 'Get Better' (I have a little bit of a cold). Not only does he know that I love school supplies, but managed to cater to three of my other big loves: soda, cheese and chocolate.

This fancy-shmancy soda from Dry Soda in Juniper Berry flavor was a delight. Light, bubbly, refreshing. Don't get me wrong, my Dr. Pepper isn't going anywhere, but this could become an occasional favorite. The Seattle-based company has set out to "re-imagine what soda can be: better tasting and better for you." They use all natural ingredients and keep the sugar to a minimum. I'm on board with anyone who can get soda into a health food category (or closer to one anyway).

And chocolate. Do I really have to explain to you why I love chocolate? I didn't think so. This chocolate is special because it's from Iceland. I know, right? Who knew? I tell you, they know something about their chocolate over there, though. You can find Noi Sirius chocolate at Whole Foods. Today I'm indulging in the Semi-Sweet variety, but I've also had the dark and it's tasty, too.

October 5, 2010

Ahhh....school supplies.

What makes something romantic? Show me you know me. Now, don't get me wrong. I heart flowers and candy, but this week school supplies swept me off my feet.

I love new school supplies. In fact, I'm half-convinced that I tried to go back to school a few years ago simply to have a good excuse to buy new pencils and folders. Oh, and day planners. I love day planners!

Yesterday, J showed up in my office with a present. The latest and greatest of school supply technology - Liquid Pencil from Sharpie. It's a pencil. It's a Sharpie. It's the best of both worlds. My to-do list just
became a whole lot more fun.

I'm a lucky, lucky girl.