Monday, December 29, 2008

Recipe of the Week - Creamy Chicken Italian

Posting an old favorite this week...given 5 stars by several of my friends who've either had it at my house or made it for their families :0) You can make it as light and healthy as you need with reduced fat or fat-free cream cheese, and some people add either mushrooms or other fresh veggies.

Creamy Chicken Italian

8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 package dry Italian dressing
1/4 cup water
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 can cream of chicken soup

Place chicken in greased slow cooker
combine salad dressing and water. Pour over chicken
Cover. Cook on low for 4-5 hours
In saucepan, combine cream cheese and soup. Heat slightly to melt cream cheese. Pour over chicken.
Cover. Cook 1 additional hour on low
Serve over noodles or rice

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to All...and to All a Good Night

Nothing really happening here, but I wanted to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas.

May you reflect today on the GLORY of the birth of a King.
May your homes be filled with dancing and joyful SONGS.
May the SPIRIT that is Christmas fill your heart and mind, and may you radiate Christ's love to all you meet.

Stay safe, stay blessed, and stay joyful


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Recipe of the Week -- Peppermint Bark

Let me just get this out: I LOVE Peppermint Bark. Especially from Williams-Sonoma. Unfortunately, I don't love their price. Soooo...I searched several recipes until I found one that claimed to taste just like it and seemed simple to make. I have to say--not only do *I* love this recipe, A's whole family is a fan...and they're a tough audience!

Peppermint Bark

10 oz chocolate chips
12 oz white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
3-4 peppermint candy canes, crushed

Heat oven to 250. Line a 9x13 pan with foil, letting it hang over the sides. Spray foil. Pour the chocolate chips in an even layer on the foil. Place in oven for 5 minutes or until almost melted. Remove from oven, smooth with an offset spatula
or knife. Place in refrigerator until cold and firm, about 20 minutes.
Melt white chocolate chips in microwave at medium power for 1 minute.
Stir until completely melted, stirring in extract. Pour this over chocolate layer, and, working quickly, spread to cover. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
Chill until both layers are firm. (I let it chill for about 30 minutes to an hour) Lift foil out of pan and shake off excess candy. Trim edges. Cut into 2” wide strips. Peel bark from foil and cut each strip as desired. Chill in covered container. Makes about 2 pounds.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday's Ten

Ten very interesting websites for your holiday perusal...

(awful nativities)

(I have to wonder how much business they have...)

(ok, it's just one of my favorites. Makes me laugh out loud nearly every time I'm there)

(what list of interesting sites would be complete without it?)

(just in case you're interested in the best and worst toilets of the UK)

(wouldn't it be nice if this worked...and just in case, I ordered sun for TN tomorrow. We haven't seen it in days.)

(does anyone actually DO inkblots anymore? but it's kinda cool)

(this came in handy when I was teaching. if my students wouldn't do what I asked at least the chicken would. He did, however misunderstand me when I typed in "downward facing dog". try it. it's not the yoga pose...)

(unfortunate website names)

(LOVE these)

and if you need more, here's some award winners:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Notes to Tennesseans on "Winter" Weather

Yes. When you got to your car this morning there probably was ice on your windshield. This came from the literal freezing rain overnight. No, the can of de-icer you bought to get rid of the pesky frost didn't really cut it. Neither did the flimsy scraper on that can. You've got to use a REAL scraper and the "defrost" option on your car coupled with windshield wipers on high. This does mean that you have to plan time to get the ice off. It's gonna take longer than the 2 minutes you normally spend de-icing the frost.

Just because there was ice on the car does not mean there is ice on the roads. This, in all likelihood, means that you can travel at a normal pace on...say, the interstate.

When it begins raining again at 11 am, but is 37 degrees outside, you can certainly drive at a normal rain pace. Rain does not freeze at nearly 40 degrees, people. And it most certainly won't create a massive freeze-out all of a sudden. Stop driving at 20 miles per hour as if you are anticipating a sudden sheet of ice to encompass the road and your car. That's not how it works.

Ice does not equal snow. Snow does not equal ice.

Furthermore, stop riding your brake in expectation of finding that one patch of ice. Be thankful it actually ISN'T there...because if it were, riding the brake would be the sure way to skid and cause a collision. You don't HAVE brakes on ice.

We don't have true winter weather here. It's cold. We've had snow AND ice this year--woo!--but seriously? Boston. New York. Chicago. THEY have winter weather. And the kids go to school through it all...amazing.

The grocery stores and gas stations truly appreciate your business, but you might want to spread it out a little. Flooding the gas station for when a snow is predicted just may cause another gas shortage. Please don't do that. Most of you don't want to drive in the snow anyway. And going to the grocery store for milk, bread and eggs...unless you're truly out of them or want to make french toast, don't bother. The snow/ice will really only last a few hours and then you can go back to Publix to do your grocery shopping for the week.

Ahhh. Ok. I feel better.

Recipe of the Week -- Pinwheels

This week I'm pulling out an old recipe from me--I've made this since high school and it's been highly requested as a repeat from *everyone* I've made it for. Yay for lots of cream cheese and ranch goodness :) And yay for EASY!

Everybody's Favorite Pinwheels

package of flour tortillas (8-10)
2 packages of cream cheese
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Original Salad Dressing mix (not the dip or buttermilk recipe!)1 slice of onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small can of sliced black olives

Soften cream cheese and combine with ranch dressing mix and onions. Spread the mixture evenly over the tortillas. Sprinkly the celery and black olives over them, and then roll up like a burrito. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Slice into small pinwheel shapes and serve!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday's Ten

Little different today--ten Scriptures that I love (and believe me, it was hard to narrow them down!)

I wear a necklace most days with the words "faith" and "love" on it. This verse is the reason:
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
(Proverbs 3:3)

LaJuana "gave" me this verse when I was first realizing that I was being led out of teaching. It's a familiar one, but it's been a wonderful reminder:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

This one I found in the middle of one of those Psalms I kind of hate to read, and skim over--one that was lamenting all that was going wrong, etc. But this verse was right in the middle of it all, and what came after it was nothing but praise.
But then I recall all you have done, O Lord. (Psalm 77:11)
That one really got to me, because sometimes I have that tendency to think that the problem I'm facing is bigger than anything I've ever gone through before...and then I realize that if God can get me through what He's already brought me through, why am I doubting that this will be any different?

I just love the imagery in this one:
For the Lord your God is living among you, He is a mighty savior
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
(Zephaniah 3:17)

You, oh Lord, are a shield around me; You are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
(Psalm 3:3)
I fell in love with that verse through a song we sing at my church, and just love the picture it creates. The song actually uses another translation as it's basis and says "You're my glory, you're the lifter of my head."

One of the wisest women I know shares this verse with us a lot (I think she's hoping it will sink in!)
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for what he's done. (Phillipians 4:6)
but my favorite is the verse that follows:
Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. (4:7)

Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act (Psalm 37:7)
(yeah. not something I'm excellent at quite yet!)

I get a lot of joy out of this one--actually believing it

He rescued me because He delights in me! (Psalm 18:19)

This one was a few verses away from our call to worship last week and it just leapt off the page at me:
I cry out to the Lord,
I plead for the Lord's mercy.
I pour out my complaints before him
and tell him my troubles.
When I am overwhelmed,
you alone know the way I should turn.
(Psalm 142:1-3)

I really could go on forever, but I'll stop with this one...I love the picture of a God who longs for us to have conversation with Him.
My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."
And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."
(Psalm 27:8)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday Memory

This is another piece I wrote, this time back in '06. We were supposed to put ourselves into a story during a church leaders retreat, and this is what poured out into my journal. I had the most *real* sense of Christ twirling me in the air...

Matthew 10:13-17People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.(NIV)

I smell the fragrance of the flowers as I skip through the meadow. I know there is need to hurry, but I stop anyway and make flower jewelry. I find the most beautiful purple flowers which I weave carefully into a necklace.

My mother comes back and scolds me. We can’t miss this, you shouldn’t be wasting time. I can feel a tear trying to make its way to my eye, but I will it back knowing that if my mother sees it there will be more scolding.

We continue walking and I clutch my precious necklace to my chest, inhaling the sweetest of perfumes. This is my new treasure.

When we reach the place I stand in awe looking at all the people. In the middle of the crowd is a man, surrounded by some of the other children from my village. He looks towards me and I can feel the welcoming kindness in his eyes.Suddenly I’m running, not caring anymore if my mother minds. The grass tickles my bare feet as I dance around him, laughing and squealing with delight along with the other children. I can’t remember when I’ve felt so much joy!

Somewhere in the distance of my mind I hear some men who seem irritated at all of us. I’m not really hearing them or paying attention to what they are saying until the kind man says “Stop! Let the children come to me.”

He looks at me tenderly as I gaze back at him. He brushes my hair back from my face and strokes my cheek as he says “I tell you that anyone who doesn’t receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it.”

I have no idea what he is talking about, but I can feel the power and love from this kindest of strangers. His eyes twinkle as he looks at me and then he picks me up in his arms and twirls me in the air until I feel as if I am soaring with the eagles. I feel my hair lift and fly in the air as well and I giggle. When he puts me down he again touches my cheek and smiles.

I hardly know what I am doing until I have already lifted my treasure, my beautiful necklace, from around my own neck. It will never fit him, but I place it on his head just like a crown. For just a moment I see something else flash in his eyes—sadness?—but then he hugs me close again and kisses my forehead. I feel something inside that I have never felt before and somehow I know that I will never be the same again.

It has been many years since that day but I often think about Jesus and all the things that happened after that day. Sometimes I think of the next crown he wore and I cry. But I never pass a meadow without stopping and smiling as I remember the most wonderful of days. And when I find some beautiful purple flowers I make another necklace, just because.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday's Ten

Ten Things I Love in December

1. Celebrating Advent
2. The occasional flake of snow (and down here it's a precious and rare commodity)
3. Seeing everyone's beautiful decorations
4. Hearing the holiday music
5. Seeing generosity
6. Christmas specials on tv
7. Decorating
8. Wrapping gifts...I LOVE it
9. Baking
10. Being with those I love

the tree this year (and Emi)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Take the Quiz! What Movie is Your Christmas Most Like?

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Charlie Brown Christmas
Each year, you really get into the spirit of Christmas.
Which is much more important to you than nifty presents.

Go here to take the quiz, and please comment with your result!>

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday's Ten...on Friday Again

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving if I didn't list what I was thankful for this year, right? goes.

1. amazing chosen family and friends who continually astound me with their love and caring
2. opportunities to use my gifts in worship and service to others
3. my amazing boyfriend who continually reflects Christ to me
4. my parents for their surprising support during this odd time in my life
5. small pleasures like sipping chai teas all curled up on the couch
6. this time of loss of has made me a more empathetic and caring person overall, I think
7. new relationships made throughout this year
8. the gift of honesty and openness...feeling like I'm living with integrity
9. opportunities to seek God in so many different places
10. the promise of an even brighter tomorrow

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recipe of the Week -- Poppyseed Chicken

I know it's Thanksgiving week and the last thing we're gonna want to think about is more food...but this is one of those meals that is always well-received. It's SUPER easy and very tasty. And I bet you could make it with leftover turkey too...although I've certainly never tried it :0)

Poppyseed Chicken

2 lbs chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken
1 8oz jar sour cream
1 1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers (I use just one little package/rolls/whatever you call them that comes in the box)
1 stick butter
1 tbsp poppyseeds

Boil chicken
Mix sour cream and cream of chicken soup
Break up chicken into pieces and put in casserole dish.
Pour sour cream and soup mixture over the chicken, mix together.
Melt butter and mix with cracker crumbs and poppyseeds. Sprinkle over chicken mixture.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday's Memory

An older piece of writing...I wrote this in March of '07. I guess with thinking of family/home/whatever during this season I thought of digging it up again.

It’s on Wikipedia now. An article entitled “Lower Ohio Valley Tornado Outbreak”.

3 sentences that are supposed to sum up that time in my life.“Petersburg, Indiana was the hardest hit town affected by the outbreak. It was one of two towns in Indiana that were hit by an F4 tornado. Six of the 12 people killed in Indiana were in Petersburg.”

It’s a rather simplistic answer to the questions we all asked in 1990. I was 9. Mercifully, I remember little about those weeks, months, years after the storm hit us. The images I do have in my mind are vivid though, and have not faded with time. My next door neighbor and I crouching underneath her staircase, crying and holding on to each other sure that we were going to die. Walking out of her house after the freight train had sounded and long gone, and seeing the debris that covered our yard—like snow, in June. There was wallpaper from the nursing home that was flattened—we recognized it right away.

We moved slowly through the next few hours—finally getting our power back after 3 days. We couldn’t leave the house for the longest time. My father was a police officer and when we finally left the house on Sunday to go to church, he was going to drive us through the worst-hit part of town on the way back home so we could see. The roadblocks wouldn’t let us through, even with his badge, because I was in the car.

When we finally were allowed to drive through downtown, weeks later, I didn’t recognize it. The historic buildings—gone. Only a very few were left standing, and those were in pretty bad shape.

Slowly, but surely, our town was rebuilt. The Red Cross was a visible presence for months. Construction became a way of life. People cried a lot, but they soon shook off the tears, got on their feet and began trying to put the pieces back together. I watched all of this, baffled. And then I forgot.

But I never did, really.

The next year we moved closer to town and I changed elementary schools. Only this school had been destroyed by the tornado, so the temporary school was a system of portables connected by a covered walkway. I was reminded of the Storm every day at dismissal as we stood on those walkways.And then I went to middle school, and I forgot.

But I never did, really.

A couple of years later we began attending another church. This one was brand new—because the original building had been flattened by the tornado. Every week as I walked through the front doors I saw the sign that said “Dedicated to the glory of God, June 1991” and remembered that it was because in June of 1990 their other church collapsed.And then I went to college, and I forgot.

But I never did, really.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Sentiment...

I've had 2 people with fabulous jobs tell me this week that they lost them...this week.

I now understand how awful of a feeling that is. I'm at 3 months now. OVER 3 months if we're counting, but I find that too depressing. And while I have complete faith and trust in the One who holds my future, those "something better is up ahead" sentiments are sounding kind of hollow. So as I hugged my friend tight this morning after she gave me the news and said "I'll be praying so hard for you" and she echoed the same...I knew that it was genuine. I don't doubt for a moment that my friends love me and have been praying all this time...but at the same time, there's solidarity in knowing that you really AREN'T alone.

And at the same time, today was a wonderful day of hope as well. A reminded me of that as we were praying together. You see, once a year, our church does this day called Harvest Sunday. The week before we get a shopping list of items for a Thanksgiving meal. We buy the food (about $20 worth), fill a paper double-bag, and bring it forward. At the end of the three services we have hundreds of bags lining the stage. The middle school students (and us lucky middle school lifeguards) sort the bags on Sunday afternoon, and they go to families in the community from now until Thanksgiving

It's a wonderful thing. And even though I have very little money this year, I filled up my bag. A and I went shopping on Tuesday together. It was a sweet time. :0) And for me it was a promise that no matter how bad things get I'll still reach out. I'll still do what I can. And next year, if I am employed (and let's hope!) I will be filling up at least 2 bags in gratitude for what I've been given.

I found this prayer at I'm praying it as I copy it to my blog, and I hope you'll pray it for me, my friend M, and my friend G as you read.

Prayer for the Unemployed

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,
You wanted all who are weary
To come to You for support.
Lord, I am worn out
By my inability to find work.

Guide my steps to a righteous path;
Give me the patience
To find opportunities with a future.
Calm my worries and fears
As my financial responsibilities mount.
Strengthen my resolve;
Embolden my heart to open doors;
Open my eyes to see life beyond rejections.
Help me believe in me.

Let me realize other ways
To bring about Your kingdom on earth.
Let me grow as a person
That I may be worthy
For Your greater glory.

In the name of the Father.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday's Ten

Ten Things I'm Happy About Lately

1. Gas Prices. I passed a station today near my house--1.97!!
2. Obama's election. I don't think he's the answer to all the problems, but I am happy for change
3. Putting babies down for a nap. There really isn't much sweeter in this world.
4. Opportunities lately to sit down and play the piano. I'd forgotten how wonderful it is--like free therapy! :0)
5. My wonderful boyfriend
6. The return of most of my favorite tv shows...
7. Pumpkin Spice Lattes
8. My amazing church family
9. Becoming more "green" really does make me feel good
10. Prospects of a brighter tomorrow

Friday, November 7, 2008

Recipe of the Week -- Greek Meatloaf

I made this tonight for A and I with mashed potatoes and green beans (which I put Greek seasoning in, to fit with the theme). We both loved it--just enough like a regular meatloaf to be familiar, just different enough to be fabulous.

Greek Meatloaf

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs mixed with 1/2 cup milk
4 oz basil-tomato feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large onion, chopped (I actually had a really large onion so I only used 1/2)
1 cup shredded carrot
1 tsp Greek seasoning (I put about 3 times that in)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (I definitely guesstimated on both s&p)

1. Heat oven to 375. Spray a 13x9 inch pan w/nonstick spray (I actually have a meatloaf pan, so that's what I used. Or jelly roll pan, whatever you call it)

2. In a large bowl mix all ingrediants. Form into loaf and place in prepared pan.

3. Bake @ 375 for 1 hour

4. Allow to rest, covered, 10 minutes before slicing

(pictured with mashed potatoes)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Night Reflections...

I've learned a lot over the last few weeks and months, not necessarily about politics or candidates, but about human nature and how incredibly divided we can really be.

It began (for me at least) with emails about my candidate that accused him of being everything from a terrorist and non-Christian, to being TOO much of a Christian. It didn't stop there; there were plenty of articles posted and emailed that told me I couldn't be hearing God's voice clearly if I voted for him because of his views on partial-birth abortion and same-sex unions (which incidentally are two issues that both candidates happened to have nearly identical views on...). There were more articles, more posts, attacking my candidates character. And of course, this went both ways. My candidate was not innocent and neither were his supporters. I honestly can't remember a time when I've seen more hateful things said among my group of friends, both online and in "real life". I started to realize that our country has truly become very divided.

Through all of this I struggled to keep my head above the murky waters everyone seemed to be sinking into, though I wasn't always successful. I maintained my staunch position that there must be a true separation of church and state, and I pointed out that the outcome of this election will not affect our eternal future. Still the comments came, and I responded by saying that we're not electing a savior, just a president. Yes, I defended my candidate and my party, but I also tried very hard to research my points and back up my opinion with sound reasoning and not emotion.

It can be a disconcerting to be both a Christian and a Democrat (or just liberal in general). I'm called upon to defend my position quite often and I often feel that I'm speaking to a crowd that will (a) never listen and (b) never believe me. So this blog is not about trying to convince you that my faith DOES determine how I vote (although it does, very much so) or why I feel that my faith has led me to these decisions. If you want to hear me make those points I'll be happy to--just ask.

Tonight I watched history being made. I was thrilled, and I was brought to tears. Not because I think Barack Obama is the savior of this country, or a messiah. Because now I can with integrity say to all of my inner city students "see what you can do?" Because my parents who lived through the Civil Rights movement have seen a black man elected to the highest office in the land. And because I truly believe that now that this election is over maybe we can begin healing.

I've been saddened as I watched nasty and hurtful things being said on both sides. I've feared that relationships won't be able to be repaired. But I was grateful to both John McCain (who gave a classy and beautiful speech tonight) and Barack Obama tonight. Both of them stressed the importance of working together and healing the divide that this nation has developed. And I truly hope that all who heard those words spoken by both of these good men who love our country will take them to heart.

We need healing now. We need to look beyond red states and blue states and see the faces behind those divisive colors. Let's call everyone purple and work together. That's what it's going to take--that's what it would have taken with either candidate's win tonight. And I'm prayerful--truly so--that we'll be able to do this.

God Bless America, and God Bless you all :0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I freakin' love football!

Yes, you're on the right blog. Geez, guys.

I've been growing in my infatuation for the game for a few years now. At first I would only watch the Superbowl for the commercials. Then I started paying attention to the games. Then my small group would gather and a football game would be on in the background. Eventually I wouldn't walk out of the room during those games. And last year I found myself shouting at the TV on the Channell's living room floor on more than one occasion.

So this year I've faithfully watched the Titans (who are the ONLY undefeated team in the NFL at the moment with an 8-0 record) and the Colts (can't help it, I'm a Hoosier) when their games are broadcast down here. And since A is a huge football fan I've found myself tuning into more games than just those. Even a few college games here and there! I even (gasp!) own a Titans jersey now.

And tonight I got a strange text from A stating that he was going to watch the Redskins game to see who would win the election. Of course this prompted a confused reply from me which warrented him calling me to let me in on the fact that the last home game of the Redskins during an election year where the current President is not in the race has been an indicator of the winner of the election.

Apparently of the last 6 elections that the incumbant CAN'T win (like this year) if the Redskins win the incumbant party (in this case the Reps) win the election. If the Redskins lose, the incumbant party also loses.So basically according to the tradition if the Steelers win tonight, Obama is in. If the Redskins pull out a victory so will McCain.

So...guess who won?


I'm hoping this holds true for a 7th time. But I keep reminding myself that we are not electing the savior of the US. And that the outcome of this election does not determine our eternal future. So many people are freaked out about the outcome one way or another (and I will readily admit that I'm nervous about the opposite outcome)...but in the grand scheme of things I've got to remember that it's not quite as important as we're making it out to be :0)

Back to football: wouldn't it be awesome if the Titans made the Superbowl again? What a fun 10 years in Nashville anniversary present for me :0)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday's Song (or Sunday's)

I first heard this song on a commercial for...something. When I looked up the lyrics I realized how incredibly descriptive of life it really is. Life is a maze; love is a riddle. Yeah. Kind of! :0)

Lenka: The Show

I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I don't know where to go
I can't do it alone I've tried
And I don't know why

Slow it down
Make it stop
Or else my heart is going to pop
'Cause it's too much
Yeah, it's a lot
To be something I'm not

I'm a fool
Out of love
'Cause I just can't get enough

I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I don't know where to go I can't do it alone I've tried
And I don't know why

I'm just a little girl lost in the moment
I'm so scared but I don't show it
I can't figure it out
It's bringing me down I know
I've got to let it go
And just enjoy the show

The sun is hot
In the sky
Just like a giant spotlight
The people follow the sign
And synchronize in time
It's a joke
Nobody knows
They've got a ticket to that show

I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I dont know where to go I can't do it alone I've tried
And I don't know why

I'm just a little girl lost in the moment
I'm so scared but I don't show it
I can't figure it out
It's bringing me down I know
I've got to let it go
And just enjoy the show

Just enjoy the show

I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I dont know where to go I can't do it alone I've tried
And I don't know why

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday's Ten (on Friday)

10 Ghosts Who Live in Nashville...according to the Nashville Ghost Tours

Ok, so we went on the coolest Ghost Tour last night. We're planning to do Franklin in the next couple of weeks...but for now, here's Nashville's most famous ones...with a few pics sprinkled in.

1. Hermitage Hotel - baby in room 910 (which no longer exists, it's now in the $3000/night Presidential Suite). People often call the front desk complaining about the continual crying of a baby from a room close to them.

2. Hermitage Hotel - Lady in White (woman murdered by her husband around 1911)

3. Hermitage Hotel - Southern Belle (woman who by her period clothing apparently resided in a house that existed before the Hermitage. Because of a little skirmish we like to call the Civil War, they have no records of who she could be, but she's appeared in a few photographs and has been seen mostly on the bottom 2 floors of the hotel)

our guide Darcy and the Orb that follows her around the Capitol...

4. Capitol - William Stillwell, the original architect of the Capitol, and Samuel Morgan, the overseer of the project. They couldn't STAND each other, and both are buried in the building itself. The Capitol is where rookie cops are stationed. There are several police reports of hearing arguing coming from inside the building, only to discover that no one is there and there is no evidence of a breakin. Most people agree that Stillwell and Morgan are still arguing, much as they did when they were alive. There are also police reports documenting officers being locked into/out of a room by an unseen force and having to call for backup.

5. Capitol - James K Polk is the only President who is buried on the grounds, along with his wife Sarah. People report seeing orbs dancing around the tomb quite often. Our tour guide called it an orbgy. Haha. We didn't see any, or maybe just one, but it was fun to look for them.

another orb maybe?

6. St Mary's of the Seven Sorrows - the ghosts in the bell tower ring the bells at odd times. There's never any explanation for this, as the bells are no longer actually's an electronic system that rings on the hour.

7. St Mary's of the Seven Sorrows - Bishop Richard Pius Miles. Several visitors and parishoners--and even priests--of St Mary's reported seeing an elderly gentleman, dressed in black and walking with a cane walking around the church. These reports went on for several years until a renovation of the church in 1969. During construction a tomb was found. In the outer coffin was a plaque that read Bishop Pius Miles, first Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville, died 1860. The ones who discovered the plaque assumed that during the Civil War, when the church served as one of several hospitals, the plaque was removed for fear of grave desecration. Over time people forgot the tomb existed. The inner coffin discovery was more surprising, however. Although it had been over 100 years since the Bishop's death, his body was perfectly preserved. This is one of the criteria for sainthood in the Catholic Church, so it is possible that he will at some point in the future become a saint. The more interesting point though is that he exactly matched the description of the man who had so often been spotted. After his re-interrment in the meditation room of the church he has never been spotted again. Guess he just needed to be noticed :0)

8. Ryman Auditorium - Hank Williams Sr. He often plays with the lights or sings after hours on the stage. Whispering Bill Anderson also reported that he felt Hank's spirit after playing one of his tunes during sound check--and everything around him lost power. He believed that Hank was putting his seal of approval on his career.

9. Ryman Auditorium - Captain Ryman himself. He's been known to heckle performances that he doesn't approve of. He originally built the Ryman as a house of worship, and when Carmen came to the Ryman several years after his death he heckled from the audience during each show. Since then he's made his disapproval known if a show comes in that he doesn't like.

10. Ryman Auditorium - the Man in Gray...believed to be perhaps a Confederate often seen in the balcony, but only during sound checks and rehearsals as well as other times the balcony is unoccupied.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Little Calamity...

"If you've got one drink and one friend and 45 minutes. Slow rides make for boring stories. A little that's worth talking about"(Grey's Anatomy)

I got my Grey's fix tonight and watched last night's episode. It ended with that quote, and I immediately grabbed a pen to write it down. Well, ok. I actually paused the tv, opened my facebook quote edit page, AND googled the quote. But you get the idea.

At any rate, those words resonated with me. I think it's safe to say that I've not had a slow ride lately, and that there's been some calamity involved. Now...whether it's worth talking about or not, I guess you all will decide.

Most of you probably know or have heard that I lost my job 2 months ago. I have no idea why--honestly. I was given a total BS reason, and I've been searching for a new career ever since. I miss C a lot, although not nearly as much as I first feared.

What HAS happened positively over the last 2 months? Well, I've learned a lot about me. In the interest of getting to bed at a semi-decent hour I'm just going to make a short list.

1. I obtained a lot of my self-worth from what I did for work.
I actually started realizing this early on when I started nannying--because I always had to qualify when people asked me about my job. I never thought it sounded 'good enough' to just reply with nanny. I always made it clear that I had taught for 5 years, etc.
So when I LOST the nanny self-confidence scraped the bottom.

2. Sometimes it's ok to ask for help. And it's ok to accept help even when you haven't asked for it.
I've had to really humble myself--with borrowing money from my parents, with talking to lenders about why they aren't being paid, with accepting a scholarship to go on women's retreat this year.
A wise friend told me today: "Sometimes it's better to receive. To let someone else have the gift and blessing of helping you"
I've always loved to help others. It's been a very hard thing for me to accept help. That's pride, pure and simple, and I'm (somewhat) happy to report that it's fading. Quickly.

3. I do have the capacity to face crisis with dignity.
Several friends have told me how much they admire the way I've "handled" this. Well, it's not all me. That's for sure. I have a fantastic support system, and I'm learning to trust God like I never have before.

4. There is joy in the midst of sorrow.
My relationship with A began right as all of this was transpiring. And it's been an amazing blessing to have such a wonderful man in my life. He reminds me constantly that he thinks I'm beautiful, that he appreciates the passion I have for life, and we have SUCH wonderful honesty and communication.
This is not the only joyful surprise that God had for me in all of this, but it is one I am reminded of daily.

5. There is opportunity to help those in need even when I feel I don't have the resources.
I've discovered this in a few ways--friends who have needed rides because they locked their keys in the trunk of the car...a neighbor and friend whose brother was dying who needed errands run and her dog kept while family poured in for the funeral...another who needed to crash on the couch for a night or two to get better sleep than she was getting in the stressful home environment she found herself in.
I don't have to have a lot of money in the bank or a whole lot of resources to do these things. I just have to listen to what those I love need. I think after this whole experience I'll find myself a more empathetic and caring person.

So, where do I go from here? Hell if I know. But what I DO know is that I have a future. I have a hope, and I trust in the Father who knows what lies ahead.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Blog from the Backyard

This is an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote after swing dancing this weekend. Enjoy :0)

In the corner near us and the band was a beautiful young girl, her flowing brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her partner was a tall and dashing man with thick wavy hair. They were so obviously in love--they never once seemed to notice the swirling dancers around them or the fact that I can't stop watching them. I took note of their simple matching rings. I envied them--their obvious deep love, their lives just beginning...and then I blinked. Sunddenly I saw his snow white hair, her gently wrinkled face. Instead of living on the brink of a life together they are closer to the end of their time. I can imagine that the days they have lived have brought many sorrows as well as joys, pain as well as promise. Yet, they are so full of love and hope that I simply cannot take my eyes away.

She smiles coyly as he spins her out and back, and they sway together in the way that only those that truly know their partners can, looking deeply into each other's eyes. This is their story, their beautiful legacy, and I find myself wanting to continue it.

I'll probably never know their names. But I hope one day, when I have hair streaked with gray and I am nearing the end of my journey, that someone will see me dancing with my soulmate and be as inspired by our story as I have been tonight.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

This Week's Ten

Not even close to Thursday this time:

10 Ways You Know You're In a Play

1. You work on your choreography in the aisle at the grocery store
2. People tell you that you are more energetic that normal...this comes from constantly being "on" during rehearsals and staging...and leaks into everyday life
3. You're constantly wondering why you can't feel the spotlight on your face
4. Radio stations do not have the appeal they normally do, as you're constantly singing the tunes from the show
5. The two year old you nanny for knows all the steps to "7 Daughters of Jethro" and helps you out when you forget them.
6. If you're home for more than 8 hours at a time (including sleep time!) you wonder what's wrong
7. You can't have a conversation without mentioning something funny that happened in rehearsal the other night
8. You lay awake at night pondering your stage makeup application.
9. You've said "I can't. I have rehearsal" so many times in the last couple of months that you've lost count.
10. You're happy to have your life back after the closing night...but so very sad that it's over.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Healthy Chicken Tenders

as usual, I adapted a recipe. So I'm typing the original in black and putting my additions in red :0)

Healthy Chicken Fingers

1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
cayenne pepper
crushed red pepper
black pepper

16 trimmed chicken tenderloins (obviously I don't cook 16 for just me--it's an easy recipe to halve/quarter)

olive oil spray
2 tbsp light butter (I don't usually add this particular ingrediant)
1 1/2 tbsp hot sauce(ok, for this I used Louisiana wing sauce and about 4-5 tbsp of it instead of the butter. I also splashed some tabasco in there. But I like it spicy)

combine dry ingrediants in shallow dish and dredge chicken spray a frying pan with olive oil spray and cook chicken. Add hot sauce and butter until chicken is well-coated. Serve with celery sticks and homemade low-fat ranch dressing (made with hidden valley ranch mix, low-fat mayo, and skim milk).


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Fettucine Alfredo

You've gotta love the technology age. I'm in the middle of Kroger tonight and I realize that I already ate the leftovers that were on my meal plan for tonight...oops. So I decide that I have a craving for fettucine alfredo and realizing that I could spend $4 on bottled alfredo sauce or $6 on the ingredients for the real deal (and make several batches from it!) I took out my cell phone and googled a recipe for alfredo sauce. The following recipe is a mixture of what I found on and what I added.

Alfredo Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (YES I hand-grated a wedge and it was *fabulous*)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
5 slices sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
black pepper to taste

Melt butter in saucepan, add cream. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add cheese and garlic, whisk until smooth and well-blended. Add parsley, red pepper, tomatoes and black pepper.

I also broiled 2 chicken tenderloins which I chopped and added to the sauce. Served over fettucine noodles and YUM.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday's Song

Today's song:

New Soul, Yael Naim

I love the catchy melody of this song. I first heard it on a commercial for something...I have no idea what it was for now. The product was forgettable, but the song was not :0)

I'm a new soul
I came to this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake

La, la, la, la (21x)
La, la, la, la (21x)

See I'm a young soul in this very strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout what is true and fake
But why all this hate? try to communicate
Finding trust and love is not always easy to make
La, la, la, la (21x)
La, la, la, la (21x)

This is a happy end
Cause you don't understand
Everything you have done
Why's everything so wrong

This is a happy end
Come and give me your hand
I'll take you far away

I'm a new soul
I came to this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake

New soul... (la, la, la, la,...)
In this very strange world...
Every possible mistake
Possible mistake
Every possible mistake
Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thursday's Ten (on Friday)

I was gone ALL DAY yesterday, so this one's a little late :0)

Ten Things You Should Definitely Do if You're going to KY Kingdom

10. Ride on the van with adults instead of the bus with the kids. Ahhh.

9. If you're like me, under NO circumstances should you wear sunscreen because it will interfere with your tanning plans. If you're like the rest of the population, put on sunscreen and reapply. I embrace sunburns; most people do not.

8. Wear a swimsuit under your clothing. The waterpark is definitely worth it.

7. Himalaya. I love this ride :0)

6. Breakdance. I really didn't want to do this one because I was afraid that the spinning would make me sick, but it was definitely fun.

5. Blizzard River. Warning--it's REALLY cold, but it's a nice little rafting experience. Nothing as fun as actually whitewater rafting, but still nice.

4. The Tornado. It's basically the most fabulous water slide ever

3. The Deluge Water-Coaster. Very cool--and wet!

2. Thunder Run--a very fun wooden roller coaster. My favorite.

1. Drive a little further north and go to Holiday World instead

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Recipe of the Week

Lora's Fabulous Vodka Pasta

ok, so I cheat and use Bertolli sauce, but the rest is all me If I find a good vodka sauce recipe I'll adjust

1 box penne pasta
1 jar Bertolli vodka sauce (after trying a few brands, this is the absolute best)
1 pound Italian sausage--I use hot, but I've also used mild and it turns out ok
1 medium onion, chopped
possibly portabello mushrooms--sometimes I just don't have them to add, but they're yummy when I do!
various and sundry spices for the sausage, depending on your preference. I sometimes add some fresh garlic to it as well.

*brown the sausage. Add spices early on in the process, and add onion when it's completely browned and drained.
*add mushrooms and sauce, in this order. Simmer while you cook your pasta. Combine and enjoy.

This should make 4 servings at the very feeds me for a few days :0)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday's Song

We are singing this hymn at church tomorrow, and when we rehearsed it this morning I almost laughed. The words are so applicable to my life right now when I've been craving Sabbath rest and simplicity. The melody is simple and beautifully fitting to the words...which, although ancient by our assessment are completely applicable to my life. I hope they speak to you as well.

The hymn is an old one, and this is what Wikipedia says about it:

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind is a hymn with words taken from a prayer contained in the poem The Brewing of Soma by Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

Here are the lyrics:

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our feverish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday's Ten

Today's Ten: Ten Things I'll Do Now That Most of my TV Shows are Over

1. Transform my patio garden into a meditation space as well as functional garden. I want to start doing yoga on the patio as often as possible. I need to find the perfect water source--I've been looking for over a year, so hopefully I'll find the perfect fountain...or whatever.

2. Clean more often ;-)

3. Pull stuff out for a yard sale--hopefully the end of June.

4. Continue making my home and environment more "green".

5. Organize ALL the closets in the house. That should take awhile.

6. Cook more often, and entertain.

7. Get my scrapbooking caught up.

8. Make some more jewelry--I've been slacking in that department lately.

9. Get caught up on correspondence.

10. Watch more Rachael Ray and Ellen :0)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Recipe of the Week - Heavenly Angel Food Cake

I'm in love with Southern Living recipes lately--apparently I'm embracing (finally) the inner Southern Belle. Here's a dessert from a couple of months ago that is fabulous! It's a perfectly light summer cake...perfect for humid Tennessee days!

Heavenly Angel Food Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375°. Line bottom and sides of a 13- x 9-inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides of pan. (Do not grease pan or foil.) Sift together first 3 ingredients.
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold in sugar mixture, 1/3 cup at a time, folding just until blended after each addition. Fold in vanilla and lemon juice. Spoon batter into prepared pan. (Pan will be very full. The batter will reach almost to the top of the pan.)
Bake at 375° on an oven rack one-third up from bottom of oven 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Invert cake onto a lightly greased wire rack; let cool, with pan over cake, 1 hour or until completely cool. Remove pan; peel foil off cake. Transfer cake to a serving platter. Spread Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting evenly over top of cake. Garnish, if desired.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 packages softened cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (16 oz) pkg powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add lemon juice, beating just until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended; stir in lemon zest.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday's Ten

Today's Ten: Things Catherine does right now that are cute/sweet

(I know I've done something similar in the past, but with her current grumpy state of mind I need to remind myself that she really is a sweetheart!)

1. "Honk Lowa" accompanied by her index finger torpedoing itself toward my nose. I never should have started it...
2. "Luh-oooh" (translated: Love You!) that she now says without prompting. Today I was leaving and she said "Bye-bye Lowa. I luh-ooh."
3. "I running. Fast" and other such narratives of what she's doing. All day long. Cute. At times not so much. But hey.
4. Manners police. As she hands me something she'll say "Thank you, Lora!"
5. "I miss it!" when she's looking for something.
6. "I fixed it!" of her favorite games now. She "breaks" something so she can be Catherine the Builder.
7. "Yay Lowa!!!" she now celebrates me too. I get cheers for doing laundry, dishes, lunch, using the bathroom...I guess it's good that she's not completely self-centric...
8. "I tired. I sleep now. You lay down too. I hold you". Unfortunately I hear that a lot. I started a baaaaad habit with her of laying down on the couch with her when she's really tired and letting her snooze on my shoulder for awhile...and now she begs for it. Oy.
9. "I want to hold you." another one of those most of the time cute/other times not so much phrases. Accompanied by an adorable holding up of the hands with the wrists together and an irresistable tilt of the head.
10. "Ooooohhhh....halaluv....Je-yus" I started singing "Oh How I Love Jesus" with her every day at naptime after we pray. Now she begins it and it cracks me up how theatrical she is with it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Recipe of the Week: PepperJack Chicken

yeah, so I'm getting domestic in my 'old age' so I'm going to include one recipe per week on this blog. I made this chicken for the first time on Sunday night and absolutely loved it! It's SO easy and quick.
(pictured over a bed of rice with fresh diced tomato)

PepperJack Chicken (from Southern Living)

1/4 cup mayo, divided
3/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese w/peppers
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp finely chopped pickled jalepeno
1 clove garlic, minced
6 skinless/boneless chicken breast halves

Combine 3 tbsp mayo, cheese and next 3 ingrediants
Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap and flatten to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.
Brush both sides of chicken lightly with remaining 1 tbsp mayo; place chicken on rack in broiler pan (*Lora's note: I simply used a wire cooling rack on top of an aluminum cake pan)
Broil 5 1/2 inches from heat with electric oven door partially open.
Broil 5 minutes on each side.
Spread cheese mixture evenly over chicken; broil 5 more minutes or until mixture is browned.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Enough: A Mother’s Day Reflection

Even though I skipped the service at church today, I did fulfill my obligation to the teens, and led class. During the worship time, we sang a song that we sing often, only today I just stood there. I couldn’t bring myself to sing the words. The chorus of the song is this:

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

I couldn’t help thinking that the teenage girls singing the song had no idea how hard it may be in the future to sing those words and mean them. And I myself have sung them so many times, deeply and passionately, believing each one. But today was different.

So many questions fill my mind. IS all of Him more than enough for all of me? My head says “yes” and my heart says “maybe”. Because the next two lines are what get me.

“For every thirst and every need”. Will my life in Christ, which is vibrant and faithful really replace my longing to be in relationship with a Godly man? And fulfill the even deeper aching for a child? Up until now it has. But over the past several months I find myself looking for more. I don’t want it outside of God’s Will…but is His Will going to crush my dreams? Yes, this is where faith enters in…and suddenly I am terrified of my deep faith.

“You satisfy me with Your love”. But the truth is, I’m not satisfied anymore. I’m shaky as I admit this, because I should be satisfied. I’m living the single girl’s dream: I have a fabulous house, a wonderful job, and things are good—in most ways better than good. I’ve finally came to peace with myself and my demons of the past. I’m healthy and I’m happy. I have wonderful friends surrounding me. But satisfied? No. If I am honest, I realize that is not the case.

So where does that leave me? Am I any less a God-seeker now? I don’t think so. I certainly hope not. But maybe today I’m a little less faithful, a little less trusting. And I’m hoping that’s where I’m supposed to be. Maybe in my state of disequilibrium, real joy will be found.

California Trip -- the condensed version

Day 1, Tuesday: LA Driving
subtitle: never travel with people you don't know...

Our flight was long, rather uneventful. We arrived in LA and all the sisters insisted that they would never want to drive the car, so to please not put their names as drivers on the rental agreement. Now, let's talk about the sisters for a friend Vera has a friend Beverly who I barely know. Vera invited Beverly to come to the lectures, and Beverly invited her sisters. Both of them live in rural TN. Some of you are getting the picture already. Did I mention that they're all over 60 too? Oy.
So I'm designated to be the driver. By all of them. And they proceed to scream and shout their way through LA. Part of the problem was that no one knew where we were going except Vera who was sitting next to me with the directions, but still the 3 of them wanted to pitch in. The other part was that they were apparently 'nervous' because I'm 'so young'. Well for one eyes are better! And...I've driven in several large cities and they live in the boondocks--I guarantee you I have more city driving experience than them! I was staying in my lane and at the speed limit. I finally yelled back at them and stated that I can't drive with people screaming at me--that I won't take it from Catherine who is 2 and I won't take it from them. Can you BELIEVE it came to that?!?!? But they shut up. finally.

They had a LOT of fun on the Canyon Road later. haha. But I digress.

We settled into the hotel and walked down to a Mexican Cantina to have lunch--which was fabulous. Seriously the best salsa ever. It was during the walk that I noticed how incredibly beautiful the flowers are in California. Huge roses, and other vibrant foliage. Seriously amazing stuff.

Shortly afterwards we left for Pepperdine. As already mentioned we had to drive through the Canyon Road to get there. Beautiful...but very mountainous and curvy. Honestly, it didn't really bother me, but since I was driving a huge van full of hysterical women I took it at the speed limit. LaJuana told me when we got back that the locals call it "Bloodbath Alley" (or something with bloodbath in the name) because so many people die on it every year. Glad the hysterical ones don't know that...

Pepperdine itself was beautiful. It's a good thing I didn't know about it when I went to school, or I'd be living in LA right now. Which wouldn't be a horrible fate Anyway, I was a bit shocked at the old-school singing at the first session, but it was nice.

Day Two, Wednesday: Lectures and the Beach

subtitle: California time change=Lora's body clock=heaven

Vera and I decided to explore the shopping center around our hotel in Calabasas after breakfast. It was a beautiful area...unfortunately nothing was open We left for Pepperdine shortly after, where we heard Rubel (our former pastor) speak--which was fabulous. We had lunch and then Vera and I skipped town (but stayed in Malibu) and went to the shopping center that Randy and LaJuana had told us about. We went to pick up the sisters after their session and then we drove down to Santa Monica and went to Venice beach. Ahhh. All I needed was to be by the water. We had dinner at Marmalade (also recommended by RG and LJ) and returned to the lectures to hear Randy Harris--also great. Upon returning, I took the van (all by MYSELF!!! Me time was awesome!!) and went to the shopping center, where I bought wine for us, as well as Goodnight LA for Catherine.

Day 3, Thursday: Santa Barbara
subtitle: ahhhhh

Vera and I really did skip town today and drove up to Santa Barbara. We walked around the touristy pier area for awhile, and then drove a few exits down to Inn-n-Out Burger. Fabulous stuff--I especially enjoyed the animal fries, but the burger was among the best I've ever had. Seriously.
After lunch we drove to the Santa Barbara mission. Honestly, this was one of the most worshipful experiences--or maybe the most worshipful experience--of the entire trip for me. We spent 2 hours there...mainly because of my fascination. Vera was a good sport . I took a ton of pictures there, but found solace in the retreat of the garden and the sanctuary. If I ever go back (which I plan to) I will attend one of the Masses. We headed back to the hotel and then walked back down to the cantina for a drink and small bite to eat. And salsa. Lots of salsa.

Day 4, Friday: Randy & LaJuana's Malibu

subtitle: another heavenly day

We got to the lectures, dropped the sisters off, and decided to suck it up and go to a morning lecture. Vera ran to the restroom and I was waiting outside for her when I was literally cornered by Randy and LaJuana...who thankfully had a MUCH better plan. Randy's words were: "May we show you our Malibu?" I said heck yes, and thankfully when Vera found us she agreed.

We had lunch at the Malibu Fish Market (one of Randy's favorites) and then took a tour of some of their favorite places. They took us to Westward Beach, which is their favorite, and showed us the path to Point Dume, with instructions to return to hike it if we could. They took us to the canyon where they used to be, pointed out a few stars houses, and then took us to Serra Retreat--another beautiful Franciscan sanctuary. The labyrinth and stations of the cross were amazing, as were the entire grounds.

We returned to the lectures, and ended up going to the same session as RG and LJ. After the session they showed us the most amazing view of the ocean from the chapel at Pepperdine.
We parted at that point and agreed to meet back up in Nashville. Vera and I then drove to Westward beach where I took some video and pictures of the gorgeous waves and we then hiked to Point Dume. It was a beautiful view, although there were a couple of scary parts of the hike...especially since we were climbing in flip-flops...maybe not the smartest idea ever.

We returned (smelling of sea air and hiking) to the closing session and then drove back to the hotel. Where we packed and attempted to eat the leftover foods in the fridge.

Saturday: The Return
subtitle: LA Airport is much busier than Nashville's...imagine that
We had to return the car by 11, and our flight didn't leave until 1:30. So...we returned the car at 10:30, and were at the gate by noon (although the lines inside the airport were killer!). Oh, side note: the sisters thanked me and Vera profusely for driving them around (we alternated--she drove mornings, I drove nights from Wednesday on). Guess they realized that I knew what I was doing after all Anyway, at the airport, I got a very expensive value meal at McDonalds and a t-shirt for Catherine and then we waited. I pulled out my laptop and showed all my pictures from Thursday and Friday to the sisters. And finally we boarded. Vera had drink coupons, so I got a bloody mary, sat back, and enjoyed the flight. Emalie was at the airport to meet us, and I settled back into real life...missing the constant view of the beach, but thankful to be home.