Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday's Ten

I'm awfully nostalgic lately as I'm in the process of applying to teach in several area counties. So, this Thursday's Ten is all about teaching, and how it's portrayed on screen. While I had several moments where I felt like the teacher on Charlie Brown (wah-wah-wah-wah), there were also so many moments of inspiration. This list of movies reflects teaching in the way I experienced it. The good, the bad, the wonderful.

(sometime I'll have to start sharing my teaching stories. I truly had some hilarious moments...and there are many, many more to come!)

You'll notice quite a few musically themed teaching movies...naturally :0)

10 Great Teacher Movies

1. Mr Holland's Opus
(I mean, duh. This one's a given)
2. Mona Lisa Smile
(liberal teacher comes to stuffy conservative school and teaches the girls what life is all about...while learning a bit about that herself)
3. Take the Lead
(ballroom dancer begins teaching inner-city students...what begins as their punishment ends beautifully)
4. Doubt
(teachers who care deeply about their students, so much so that they will defy the Church to protect them)
5. Music of the Heart
(gah, I love this one. Keeping arts in education. Nuff said)
6. Stand and Deliver
(teaching students to care. Not an easy task!)
7. Sister Act 2
(besides being hilarious, it's all about an inner-city choir. Um, hello mirror)
8. Lean On Me
(just plain inspiring)
9. Akeelah and the Bee
(beautiful story of a teacher/student)
10. Freedom Writers
(young teacher with lots of creativity...and lots of obstacles)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Recipe of the Week -- Pizza Sticks

All credit goes to Rachael Ray for this one...

So I have a confession. You know those pizza rolls? The ones that are REALLY bad for you, that you pop in the microwave or oven and they're gooey little bites of heaven?

I could eat them daily. And probably did for a time in high school.

However, in the interest of being more healthy, I found this recipe on Rachael R
ay's website. I (naturally) adapted it a tiny bit, but most of it's exactly as she presented it.

Pizza Sticks
(pictured with peppered salami and grape tomatoes)

8 slices white bread, crusts removed (I use whole-wheat white)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

basil leaves

2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups prepared tomato or pizza sauce, warmed (I use Trader Joe's marinara sauce)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Put slices of bread on smooth surface (I just used a cutting board) and use a rolling pin to gently flatten each slice. Place a basil leaf on each piece of bread, and cover with freshly shredded mozzarella. If you want more basil-y flavor, add another leaf. Roll up the bread and seal the edges. Lightly brush with the melted butter and pop in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they've browned a bit and the cheese is melty.

This recipe has so many alternate methods. I'm going to try it with chicken sausage soon. And making it spicier with some crushed red pepper. And perhaps adding some fresh parmesan. See what I mean? Perfectly good and pretty least more so than the original. :0)


Monday, April 27, 2009

Crazy Eights

Ashley tagged me for this little meme that's been going around. It took awhile to come up with some of this!

eight things I am looking forward to

1. teaching again
2. summer days and the pool
3. football season (yes read that correctly!)
4. having a regular schedule
5. my hair getting long enough to donate. Mainly so I can have a cute new haircut.
6. a couple of possible trips
7. more regular walks and hikes
8. tanning working in the garden

eight things I did yesterday

1. went to church
2. walked a dog
3. attended a baby shower
4. listened to live Irish music and enjoyed a cider at the pub
5. snuggled with a bulldog
6. snuggled with a cat to make up for her being jealous of me snuggling the bulldog
7. talked on the phone with my sweet boyfriend :0)
8. sent and received a gazillion texts

eight things I wish I could do

1. draw/paint. Seriously, even my stick figures are unrecognizable.
2. travel more. NYC, Charleston, and the California coastline are calling my name.
3. lose weight without having to work at it...healthily. Yeah, not happening.
4. snap my fingers and have the house cleaned (or even just care more about actually cleaning!)
5. play the cello
6. grow things. my poor garden. I have high hopes this year though!
7. run consistently for longer periods. I'm getting there though!
8. knit

eight shows I watch on TV

2. Grey's Anatomy
3. Criminal Minds
4. Law and Order (all of them)
5. Desperate Housewives
6. CSI (original and NY)
7. Medium
8. The Mentalist

eight people I tag

1. Sara at Grace.Gets.Greater
2. Caitlin at Go Go Gadgett: Gidgett!
3. Brooke at Smart + Strong = Sexy
4. Laura at Catholic Teacher Musings
5. Bethany at HappyascanB
6. Joan at Joan of All Trades
7. Tamela at A Brunette Making it One Day at a Time
8. Whitney at Whitney Inspired

(the last 2 are my two newest followers! yay!)

And I will freely admit that I didn't check to see if any of you had already been tagged, I only checked against Ashley's tag list. And I'm a guilt free tagger, so no worries. I'm not going to stalk your blog until you post this. Probably.


Who me? Couldn't Be!

Admit it. You're as dorky as I am, and you completed the title.

(or you have NO idea what I'm talking about, and you're further convinced that I'm a loon)

Either way, it's time to tell you all the things I've not been doing for the past few days. Before I get too far into it though, you should head to McMama's blog to check on Stellan's progress. Still praying!

SO, what I've not been doing lately.

First of all, as I sit here writing this at 10 am, I am not starving. It's not like I did not eat dinner last night and have coffee this morning. What gives?

I did not become slightly disappointed on Wednesday that there was no new LOST. I am not addicted to enamored with slightly interested in this show. I did not receive a facebook wall post from Anthony the other day which did not include this video. If you're not a LOST fan you
should definitely not watch it.

On Thursday night, Anthony and I did not cook vodka pasta for his sister and her boyfriend...and we did not play Uno Attack afterwards. We were not incredibly competitive and cut-throat throughout the whole game. That's not how we roll. Nope.

Friday was not a gorgeous day and I did not take advantage of it as much as possible. Sara and I were not supposed to get together to go for a hike on the greenway until she had unforeseen circumstances. However, I did not strike out on my own for about 3 miles...and I didn't feel great afterwards!

Friday evening I did not host a girls' night in. I did not make some new recipes which I will not be posting here in the coming weeks. We were not stuffed. We did not just sit around and watch the sweet English bulldog that I was babysitting the entire night. We're more exciting than that!

Speaking of the English bulldog, this sweet puppy did not stay at my house from Wednesday to this morning. I did not love it. Not a lot.

isn't she not adorable?!

I have not already blogged about my fantastic weekend, so I suppose I should not skip it here for fear of being long-winded and repetitive :-)

I am not off "work" today, and most certainly am not taking advantage by still being in my pajamas. I would never sit around, catch up on blogs and blogging and watch tv all morning. I did not cry at a movie already today. I'm not a sap.

And as I wrap this up, I'm not considering going to the kitchen for a snack. It most likely won't be the espresso caramel bars I blogged about the other day. Or Cheesecake Factory leftovers. Nope, I'll grab a carrot.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend Stuff

Between girls night on Friday, an awesome concert on Saturday, a baby shower today, an English bulldog who is temporarily living at my house, and other crazy and wonderful things...I'm a day late on this!

Today's wordle:
go to Shannon's blog to participate!


A Most Perfect and Wonderful Weekend

You know the weekends when everything goes right? There's gorgeous weather. You're babysitting a sweet English bulldog. You get a walk in on Friday afternoon and then have a group of great friends come over Friday night. Saturday dawns and you have a massage scheduled, after which you go to the boyfriend's house and walk together for about a mile to the stadium where Jason Mraz is opening for Dave Matthews Band. The weather remains perfect, and you collapse into bed upon getting home...Sunday morning comes, and while getting up is tough the sermon is amazing and worship is meaningful. Then there's the baby shower for a friend where lots of laughs and pictures (my favorite!) happen. And you wrap up the whole weekend by sipping on a cider and splitting a plate of fish and chips with good friends at the Pub.

Yeah. It's been a perfect weekend. Aaaah.
(thank you Captain Mayhem for your part in that :0)


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recipe of the Week -- a 2 for 1!

I served these tonight and I have to say...they were pretty amazing. This recipe looks involved at first glance, and it does involve some serious time, but I assure you that it's completely and totally worth it. Can I get a witness?

Espresso Caramel Bars
(credit goes to Giada on Food Network for this one)


vegetable cooking spray
12 whole cinnamon graham crackers, crumbled (or 2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs)

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted


1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 tablespoon water

Chocolate Layer:

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

1 3/4 teaspoons instant
espresso powder (instead of this, I used strong brewed coffee in liquid form)
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt, optional (I do NOT use this ingredient)

For the crust:

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment or waxed paper. Spray the paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the graham crackers and sugar. Process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and blend until the mixture forms into clumps. Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing gently to form an even layer. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is golden. Cool for 15 minutes.

For the caramel:

While the crust is cooling, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of cream, butter, sugar, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, about 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully pour the caramel over the warm crust. Cool for 20 minutes. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

For the chocolate layer:

Combine the chocolate chips and cream in a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water (OR do what I did and microwave in 45 seconds intervals on half power.) Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the espresso powder. Remove the springform pan from the freezer. Pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel layer and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with smoked sea salt, if using. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until firm.

Allow the layers to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Using a warm, slightly wet knife, carefully cut around the edges of the chocolate layer. Release the side of the pan and remove the paper from the bottom. Cut into 1 1/2 by 1/2-inch bars and store airtight in a covered plastic container.

They go really well with the Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries featured on Heidi's blog. See?

(I did change the recipe slightly, so see her blog for the original. But they are totally healthy and good for you...unlike the previous dessert. Balance :0))


18-20 large strawberries
1.4 oz. package of fat free Cheesecake pudding

1 7-8 oz can whipped topping
1 cup of skim milk

Mix the pudding and skim milk together with a whisk for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.Wash strawberries and cut off stems. Let strawberries dry on a paper towel on the cut end. With a sharp knife cut the strawberry in quarters from the tip without going all the way through the strawberry. Put filling in a large ziploc bag and cut the end off (or pastry bag if you have one). Put tip in strawberry and squeeze filling until it comes out of the sides and top of the strawberry. Store loosely covered in the fridge.

editing on Saturday just a bit to add that I served both of these at a Girl's Night In last night. Both are perfect girl's night food...and we also discovered that if you cut the strawberries too far so that they're in pieces they are delicious just dipped into the cheesecake mixture. To be fair, I think it was Anthony who suggested it :0)


Thursday's Ten -- the outdoor variety

Having celebrated Earth Day yesterday, and seeing the sunshine outside today, I'm truly craving some outdoor time. Since I can't get any at the moment (boo!) I'll just tell you some of MY favorite things to do outside it great weather!

1. hike/walk/run. Whether it's just around the neighborhood or going to one of the *gorgeous* greenways or parks in the city I love it.
2. a picnic. If there are kids involved, make sure there's a playground nearby, and that you have a good book to read on the blanket while they play :0)
3. working in the garden. Now...I kind of suck at gardening. But I love to *try* to make my backyard pretty. I have big plans to work in my garden next week! I'd really like to get an herb garden started. I've killed all the herbs I've attempted to grow...but I have hope. Any tips among the rest of ya?
4. tanning. I know, I know. Bad for you, blah blah. But I am built in such a way that I crave--need--the sun. And somehow, getting a little hint of brown on my skin makes me feel better emotionally and physically. I'm sure I'll pay for it one of these days, but I'm telling you. I never deal with depression when there's sunshine to be had.
5. playing. I don't have kids of my own, but I babysit enough--and have enough friends with children--that I'm quite used to playing outside on swingsets and jungle gyms. I love it.
6. driving. If I can't walk or run, just driving with the windows down and sunroof open will do. And the music blasting, of course!
7. being near water. Oceans are best, but access to them in TN? I'll settle for a river, lake, creek, waterfall. There is something therapeutic to me about hearing, seeing and smelling water. I somehow always feel closer to God at the water's edge.
8. whitewater rafting. A tradition for us at youth camp every year, so I get to go once per summer at least. But I love going with a group of friends as well.
(the last 2 are kind of remarkable considering I don't know how to all!)
9. sitting on the patio. Especially at dusk or at night. I plant moonflowers each year, and make sure there's a lot of white in my garden besides that so that I have some beauty to look at even in the near-dark. I love to relax and listen to the beautiful sounds around me. This does not include a nearby neighbor's yappy dachshunds. ;-)
10. pull out the camera. I'm sure you've all figured out by now that I enjoy taking pictures. I love grabbing a nature photograph, a photo of a friend--or going to the zoo and taking pictures of the cool animals they have!

What about you? What are your favorite things to do outside?


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day of the Extravagant Sort

Earth Day...

Anthony thinks I'm a little nuts (yes, I know you're reading this honey).
My parents don't get it.
The guy at Chik-Fil-A wrote me off as a crazy greenie.
Nancy, the woman I'm acting as caregiver for says I'm "conscientious" but says it in a way that I'm not sure it's a compliment.

But I don't care.

I'm unashamedly trying to be green.

I recycle. And I'm somewhat militant about it, I'll admit it. Nancy now just leaves her plastic juice bottles in my car because she knows that if she starts to throw them away I'll just grab them out of her hand and throw them in the backseat anyway. And she and I went to Chik-Fil-A the other day and I was quite excited that the sandwich I ordered came in a recyclable plastic box. It was even a #1, so that's really easy to recycle! However, after eating the sandwich I realized that there was NO RECYCLING BIN in the store. I even asked the guy behind the counter "So, you have a recyclable container but no recycling that the deal?" and he was like "yeah..."


(I took it home to recycle.)

Now I'll admit I'm not the world's best recycler. I forget pretty often about paper. But glass, plastic, tin, aluminum, kitchen is taken over with the recycling bags for each of them.

I also use CFL's which pretty much everyone does now...I have a SIGG which you all know if you've read my blog :0) I try to buy natural and organic products, although I'll admit I don't do it exclusively. It's expensive. And I like my mint chocolate oreos :0)

And I use reusable bags. Most of the time I go through the self-checkout if I'm in Kroger/Publix so as to not have to deal with the checkout process. Trader Joe's kind of expects you to bring your own bag (good for them), but the people in Target look at you oddly--even if you're using a Target reusable! Not only are the reusable bags great for the environment, they're also a whole heck of a lot easier to wrangle from the car to the house. Believe me, that's a great benefit.

Am I perfect? Nope. I use more heat in the winter (but it balances with my low air conditioning useage), I forget to turn off lights when I leave the room, I leave lights on for the cat when I'm gone, and I forget to unplug things. But the point is...I try. I'm not trying to save the world, but I AM trying to be a good steward of what God has given us. I don't think that being green is just a human initiative. I think we're called to take care of the earth.

So maybe today instead of throwing away that Diet Coke can you can toss it in a recycling bin. Perhaps you can pour yourself a glass of water instead of paying for a plastic water bottle. And possibly you can bump the temperature on your air conditioner a couple of degrees higher or unplug an appliance you rarely use.

Or maybe you can just dismiss this all as the ramblings of a liberal. ;-)

Either have a choice. Isn't that a beautiful thing?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday

What have learned from another woman this week? (or ever)


I am having the hardest time with these posts lately.
It's not that I don't have enough wonderful women to choose from.
It's that I have too many.

You see, my mother and I have never been close. She had an oddly (and unhealthy) closeness to her own mother, and it honestly wasn't until my grandma died my senior year of college that she attempted to forge a relationship with me. By was really too late

It's not that I don't love my mom. I do. Truly. And we've gotten closer as time has gone by, but in all the meantime God has provided many "mothers" to fill the void I had.

I'm not sure when I began realizing this. I've already written about two of those "mothers" when writing these T2T posts. Now it's time to introduce you to yet another.

I was so intimidated the first time I met ML. Her husband was a professor at the university I attended, we played in the orchestra together at church, and he and I had become fairly close
over the course of the 2 months or so I had been in town. When I met his wife (who goes by ML instead of Marylou) for the first time (after church one Sunday morning) I thought there was no way I would EVER click with this beautiful, classy woman who had it all together.

I remained intimidated until Christmas break freshman year. Our music minister at church had especially asked if I could stay for the Christmas extravaganza. Unfortunately, it was scheduled for the Sunday...after the dorms closed on Friday. I begged housing to let me stay the extra 2 days, but apparently they put a huge vacuum seal over the entire university during the Christmas holidays and there was no way I was breaking that barrier. So Don said "Well, just stay at our house!"


He "led" me to their house that Friday afternoon in the midst of rush hour (which I was still not used to--rush hour at "home" meant a tractor was on the highway...or the high school had just let out). Once we got there, he showed me to my room for the weekend and then headed off to do something...I think it was going back to campus to enter grades or something. I was left alone in the house with a beautiful English spaniel dog (who was my instant buddy and remained so until she died--I was the only person who could take care of her when her parents went out of town). Within an hour or so, I heard the garage door open. I smoothed my hair and
tried to look as natural as possible because I knew SHE was home.

She walked in, greeted the dog, and then looked at me and said 7 wonderful words:

"Why don't we go to the mall?"

And a beautiful friendship was born.

ML and I bonded quickly over that weekend, and I was at their house many, many times after. I house-sat for them, dog-sat for them (and Don would bring the dog to see me any time he had her on campus...or call me to go get her out of his office if he had back to back classes). ML became someone that I did total girl things with, like shopping, getting manicures and visiting the makeup counters. ML was the one who introduced me to the beautiful hiking areas of Nashville and for that I will be eternally grateful. Most Sunday afternoons involved a lunch at their house and a hike around Edwin Warner park which was literally 5 minutes from their house at the time. Sometimes they would also invite the girls I lived with, but often it was just me and ML.

I found out a lot about her (them) on those hikes. She grew up in Indiana too, had a v
ery similar upbringing to mine, we had a lot of the same battle wounds. She and Don had never had children of their choice. And so that faux mother/daughter role was easy for both of us to adopt. We were asked by strangers constantly if we were mother and daughter and we always laughed about it...because we look nothing alike!

They left the church we all attended my sophomore year, and those Sunday afternoons became less frequent, but still we gathered together often. And I visited them at their new church (Christ Church) a LOT. I still visit there--it's a pretty well-known church to anyone in this area, and Don actually plays in the band there.

About a year after I graduated they moved closer to the area I live in (and go to church in). You would think this means I see them often, but that's unfortunately not the case. ML has a pretty demanding job and has had to be out of town a lot lately. And of course in my current job-limbo, it's not as easy for me to be up for a shopping trip even if she is in town.

I have no doubt however of these things:
ML loves God
and she loves me.

And that's enough.

(at my senior recital, 2003)


Monday, April 20, 2009

Why not?

I've been noticing the I heart faces pictures floating around the blogosphere and have finally decided to enter the self-portrait one...join in the fun here

Here's my adults entry:

I most certainly won't leave this picture up for long, it's of the child I used to nanny for. I think it'll hurt too much if I have to see it constantly, but it remains my favorite picture of me with a child...ever. So for possibly 24 hours, and for possibly 24 minutes...enjoy.


Oh no, not me! (Monday)

Welcome to my Not Me Monday post...where I confess all my non-doings. Click the button for more info and to participate. And keep praying for sweet Stellan!

My walk/running plans were not dashed yesterday when I realized it was not going to rain I did not wave a white flag of surrender to the TN weather and decide that I would not try again another day. After the time period had passed in which I could run, the skies did not clear...for awhile anyway. Read on.

I did not have a later night last night than I had planned on (which was not due to the bottom falling out of the sky while I was at the pub...which did not spur me to order another drink and stick around for the last set...because I did not forget my umbrella (like it would have done me any good))

Therefore, I did not sleep this morning until the last moment possible.

I have not been sneezing my head off the last 3 days or so. I'm positive this is not due to my 5 mile run/walk in the gorgeousness of Friday, the grass clippings I smelled all day Saturday (have I mentioned that I do not love the smell of freshly cut grass...but it does not wreck havock with my sinus cavities?), and the rain, rain, rain on Saturday evening and Sunday? Oy.

I am not overly excited about the fact that my neighbor asked me to babysit her sweet English bulldog Moxie this weekend. I do not love that dog. Emi does not tolerate her, and they did not have a staredown in the middle of the living room the last time she was here. I do not wish I had grabbed my camera while that was going on. And I most certainly do not realize that Emi would most likely tolerate a puppy brother/sister much better than another cat, and I have never checked into getting an English bulldog of my own. Not me!

I am not hosting a girls night this Friday, and am not already salivating over the menu. However, I am not limiting myself so I don't go overboard on the food or budget. I did not ask all the guests to bring something...and I am not thinking to myself "but what if the food doesn't GO together?" I'm not a control freak. No, no...not me.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

This Weekend at Lora's...

This week's wordle...I promise I don't talk about vodka THAT much...

(go to Last Shreds of Sanity to participate)

Amazing friends, fun times, great conversation

Such describes my weekend. Beginning with a 5 mile walk/run in the gorgeous sunshine (I have a bit of pinkness to prove it--yay!), the Pub and live Irish music, Hand & Foot at Andy and Mandy's house, and ending tonight--to the Pub again because a friend is in town and it's her choice. I love weekends where I feel laid back and comfortable the whole time...aaah.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday's Ten

Ten Things I Couldn't Live (as well) Without...the $25 and under edition

1. Neosporin
(with as much as I hurt's a VERY necessary item. I don't have it in the medicine cabinet. It lives in my purse, actually.

2. my SIGG water bottle

3. the one-touch can opener my parents gave me a couple of Christmases ago. I thought it was silly until I used it...

4. ThermaCare heat wraps. An ex's mom introduced them to me, and I will forever be grateful. Let's just say that wearing a portable heating pad during certain days is a Godsend.

5. flip-flop
s. I'm notorious for wearing them in inappropriate temperatures and weather conditions.

6. San Pelligrino water. Aaah.

7. exercise apparel, especially yoga pants and exercise skirts. So cute and comfy!

8. Cadbury mini-eggs. I'm on the prowl to find them during non-Easter times...

9. my tape deck adapter that allows me to play the iPod at top volume in the car

10. Starbucks. Yeah, it's expensive. But on occasion...worth it.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday's Walk

Wednesday's Walk

You know, Tennessee has some CRAZY weather.
When I first came to TN I didn't realize that no one here *really* knew how to drive in snow and ice. No problem (so I thought) it doesn't happen here often. Well...I definitely underestimated the IDEA of snow and ice.

One winter's night our freshman year, the forecast called for snow...and ice. And yes, we even saw a flurry or two. However, after a busy night of watching tv and mindless chatter studying, the four of us decided that indeed we needed some ice cream. And we could all hear Maggie Moo's calling to us.

Now, Maggie's closes around 9. We weren't worried though, it was 8 pm and the shop was approximately 15 minutes away in Green Hills.

Well...traffic was insane. And when we got to Green Hills we discovered that everyone had closed early because of the snow! We were sorely disappointed, but decided to go with our backup plan: Sonic. Which was literally less than a mile from our dorm's front door

(While we were out, one of the girls' moms called and fussed at commended us for getting out in the weather. Which made me laugh. There WAS NO WEATHER!)

Plan B. We were NOT happy. A milkshake from Sonic was quite inferior to our original dream of cinnamoo, or vanilla with an add-in...

How many times does my life take a Plan B route? And how many times has God heard me complain about how inferior Plan B is when it really was His original plan all along?

I wonder.


Recipe of the Week -- Vodka Pasta

I'm a big girl. I admit when I'm wrong.
And wrong I was, about vodka pasta.

In the past, I've opened up a jar of Bertolli vodka sauce, thrown in some sausage and onion, and poured it over pasta. Now, while there's nothing inherently wrong with doesn't even come close to comparing to this.

I adapted a Rachael Ray recipe (called "you won't be single for long vodka sauce) and made it my own :0)

Without further ado...

Lora's Vodka Sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped (or more if you prefer it)
approximately a pound of Italian sausage
1 cup vodka *
1/2 cup chicken stock *
1 can tomatoes (I currently use fire roasted italian)
salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, etc to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and onions. Gently saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add sausage and brown. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt, pepper and other seasonings. Simmer the sauce while cooking pasta (I use penne). Right before time to drain the pasta, stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat.

*play around with these based on how liquid-y you want your sauce.  But that is the ratio.  I sometimes use 3/4 cup vodka to 1/4 cup chicken broth for a thicker sauce.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Titus 2 Tuesday

What have you learned from another Christ following woman?

Time once again for me to try to pick just ONE influential woman in my life.

I'm reaching way back today, to Carmen.

Carmen was our neighbor from the time I entered 5th grade until I moved from my parents home to a college dorm. She was the pianist at the church we started attending when I was in 7th grade. She and her husband were good friends of my parents, and I bonded with her around the time I was 13 on. I would often ride my bike to her house and stay for *hours*. Sometimes there was a legitimate reason--I sang solos often and would rehearse at her house. Other times it was just to be around her. She was such a loving and caring presence in my life. I remember kneeling together in her living room and praying when I decided to accept Christ into my life. I remember confessing to her that I thought I really did have an eating disorder (that was round one, in high school). Her couch was my altar on many occasions, and her arms were the ones I ran to when I was upset or confused.

She was the one who encouraged me to enter Trevecca even though my parents were not sold on the plan. And about halfway through my college career, she and her husband moved to Clarksville, which is about 45 minutes north of Nashville. I was thrilled to have a piece of home in Tennessee. By that time I had already decided that Nashville would be my home after graduation, and there was something comforting about the idea of being able to drive up there whenever I wanted.

Unfortunately over the last few years we haven't been in as close of contact as we would like...thank goodness for email and facebook (she recently joined). Anthony and I did go to her and Bill's 50th wedding anniversary celebration a few months ago.

I don't think I have any pictures of the two of us together that are actually on the computer, so no pictures today. I may be able to scan one in later :0)


Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is Risen Indeed!

So we echoed this morning with the countless others in chorus (probably at the same time as many of you!).

It's always amazing to sit through the Easter service 3 times as an active participant. This year was no different. All the anticipation of Lent, all the mourning, the's over. It's like something inside me wanted to burst forth this morning!

Our pastor read the "1st edition" of the resurrection story from the book of Mark, ending at verse 8 where the women who had just encountered the angel at the tomb went home and didn't say anything to anyone because they were terrified.

Now, obviously they got over that. And the point of Dean's sermon is that WE are the bearers of the story. We continue it on, and we tell it in the way we live our everyday life.

Father, may my life be a reflection of You, may I continue to share YOUR story with all those I encounter

I'll close with this thought and video (Sunday's song).
My friend Gwen sent an email earlier today that made me smile. One of the songs that Beth, Lindsay, Gwen and I listened to a lot in college was this very one. Beth and I both had a copy on cd and we would take turns blasting it. Not any of our normal choices in musical style, but we all loved the powerful message contained. And it applies so well with the sermon that I heard three times today: We've just seen Jesus. We will never--can never--be the same again...and it is we who will tell the story.



Saturday, April 11, 2009

Weekend Bloggy Stuff

go to Last Shreds of Sanity to participate!

There is hope, He is risen!

Happy Easter all!


Easter Weekend

Anthony and I have been doing a devotional each night of Lent together--over the phone, or when we happen to be together.
It's been amazing.
Anthony told me last night that he's never experienced Easter in this way.
And so, Lent has served it's purpose.

It's prepared us for Holy Week.

Hearing more of Jesus' words and focusing on His story prepared us for Holy Thursday where He washed the disciples feet. It prepared us for hearing his words about Body and Blood, to feel pain as we read "then He took the cup" because we know what happens next.
I'm never prepared for betrayal. I've always been extremely bothered by two stories in Scripture. That of Saul...and that of Judas. Someone had to do what they did...they served their purpose. If no betrayal...then no cross.

I wasn't ready to read about the disciples falling asleep during the watch that lonely night.
But last night, at our Good Friday service I was reminded.

You see, we were doing a Taize style service and there were long and purposeful pauses between songs and readings. Since I was one of the singers I had the unique vantage point of actually knowing what song came next. The words to the song next in my book were "Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray..." which is, of course, what Jesus said to the disciples that night. And during the long pause before we began that song...there was snoring in the congregation.
Taize is a very peaceful service, and there was only candlelight so it was a perfect environment in which to sleep. And while I did have the thoughts of "please, somebody start a reading or play a chord on the piano or *something*" it was also evident that sleeping at this point in the service was oddly appropriate.

Once Thursday bleeds into Friday it gets a little harder for me. Experiencing Jesus on the cross (and at our Good Friday services leaving Him there) is a difficult thing for me to swallow. Yes, I know the end of the story, but Lent has prepared me to mourn this those who did not know the end were surely doing.

And Saturday. Waiting. Something I've never been good at. And yet we are called to it.
Tomorrow is a new day.

May you experience it as such.


Good Friday

So many of you have had profound words to share these past few hours, and I only wish I had the same gift of words to speak at this time.

Holy Week is always very draining for me. I think it's a good thing (I mis-typed God thing there at first, which is also fitting). But between the amazing blogs I've read today and the lack of anything new to add there, I'll let these ancient words do the talking.

April 10, 2009

Good Friday of the Lord's Passion Reading 1
Responsorial Psalm
Reading 2

Reading 1
Is 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.

Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25

R. (Lk 23:46) Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
For all my foes I am an object of reproach,
a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends;
they who see me abroad flee from me.
I am forgotten like the unremembered dead;
I am like a dish that is broken.
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God.
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors."
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted,
all you who hope in the LORD.
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Reading II
Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

In the days when Christ was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Jn 18:1—19:42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley
to where there was a garden,
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place,
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards
from the chief priests and the Pharisees
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,
went out and said to them, "Whom are you looking for?"
They answered him, "Jesus the Nazorean."
He said to them, "I AM."
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, "I AM,"
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
"Whom are you looking for?"
They said, "Jesus the Nazorean."
Jesus answered,
"I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go."
This was to fulfill what he had said,
"I have not lost any of those you gave me."
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it,
struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave's name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
"Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?"

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest,
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest,
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter,
"You are not one of this man's disciples, are you?"
He said, "I am not."
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
"I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather,
and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said."
When he had said this,
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said,
"Is this the way you answer the high priest?"
Jesus answered him,
"If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong;
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
"You are not one of his disciples, are you?"
He denied it and said,
"I am not."
One of the slaves of the high priest,
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said,
"Didn't I see you in the garden with him?"
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium,
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said,
"What charge do you bring against this man?"
They answered and said to him,
"If he were not a criminal,
we would not have handed him over to you."
At this, Pilate said to them,
"Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law."
The Jews answered him,
"We do not have the right to execute anyone,"
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium
and summoned Jesus and said to him,
"Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered,
"Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?"
Pilate answered,
"I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?"
Jesus answered,
"My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here."
So Pilate said to him,
"Then you are a king?"
Jesus answered,
"You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
"I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"
They cried out again,
"Not this one but Barabbas!"
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head,
and clothed him in a purple cloak,
and they came to him and said,
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
"Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him."
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, "Behold, the man!"
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
"Crucify him, crucify him!"

Pilate said to them,
"Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him."
The Jews answered,
"We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God."
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
"Where are you from?"
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
"Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you
and I have power to crucify you?"
Jesus answered him,
"You would have no power over me
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin."
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
"If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar."

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge's bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
"Behold, your king!"
They cried out,
"Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!"
Pilate said to them,
"Shall I crucify your king?"
The chief priests answered,
"We have no king but Caesar."
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
"Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews."
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
"Do not write 'The King of the Jews,'
but that he said, 'I am the King of the Jews.'"
Pilate answered,
"What I have written, I have written."

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
"Let's not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,"
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son."
Then he said to the disciple,
"Behold, your mother."
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, "I thirst."
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
"It is finished."
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea,
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night,
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day;
for the tomb was close by.

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


Thursday, April 9, 2009


I have an interview in 2 hours.
I'm not releasing details just yet, because I'm trying SO hard not to get my hopes up.
But from the moment I heard about this opportunity I've wanted it, claimed it, hoped for it.

So pray. Please.

Pray specifically that I am able to make a strong case for my ability to re-grasp the Spanish language, and upon being hired that I am truly able to quick-study my way back to semi-fluency.

Cause I'm gonna need it.

Ok. Peace out, more later


Thursday's Ten -- Time For a Little Laughter!

First of all, those of you who have commented sweetly on my last couple of posts have encouraged me greatly. I promise I wasn't trying to be a downer...just sharing my heart and part of my journey!

But I think a little lightheartedness is due on this blog!


Ten Things that Make Me Laugh

1. Kids. They always say the funniest things.
(one of my favorite nannying moments was when the 2 year old told the restaurant hostess: "Lora needs some wine")
2. The $3.99 lazer pointer I bought for the cat to play with. Hi-larious.
3. Family Guy. Yeah, Anthony has me addicted.
4. Old episodes of Friends. When I'm feeling down, all I have to do is pop in one a dvd of Friends and life seems good again.
5. Girlfriends.
6. The woman I'm acting as caretaker for. I had to help her pick out a bra the other day (she found out I used to work at VS). She's always telling me things that make me giggle. Sometimes out loud...sometimes inside.
7. Teaching stories. My own, others. You can't make this stuff up!
8. My "skills" at certain video games. I LOVE playing, but I'm not necessarily "good". A indulges me. I'm determined to get to a level where I don't feel dumb playing with him all the time!
9. Myself. Soooo many crazy things happen to me on a semi-regular basis. I'm going to post a story I shared with my email friends a few years ago at the end of this.
10. blogs. There are some blogs that I go to regularly just for the humor within. And often leave with some pretty powerful thoughts too--some of you have such a gift for writing with humor and making us see beyond the surface.


Blast from the past:

I'm all about being an independent single woman.

And bugs? Bugs don't freak me out. Not really.

After all, I'm the one who made the rule at camp that if it's not bigger than your fist you're not allowed to scream. Bugs surprise me sometimes, and I'm not necessarily thrilled with them (especially the spiders who crawl up my drainpipe to die in my shower), but I'm not *scared* of them, and I'll take the necessary steps to eliminate them even if that's flushing them or spraying them with windex repeatedly.


As I was grinding my coffee beans last night, as is my routine, Emi came into the kitchen and meowed while looking longingly at her food corner. This normally means she's out of something, and sure enough I noticed her water dish was low. I filled up a glass and when I bent down to fill the dish my eyes traveled to her food dish.

Now, I've been working in the garden a LOT lately, and mistakenly have left the door open to the patio a lot. The patio is off the kitchen.

Nestled in the corner of her food dish was a slimy looking gray...something.

I freaked.


And then figured out by careful (and faraway) inspection that it was a slug. dad would have poured salt on it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I employed the help of a broom to first knock it off Emi's food dish. Then I shuddered and said "ew, ew, ew, ew, ew" I grabbed my garden shovel, but realized I didn't want to get close enough to scoop it up to throw it outside, and then if I DID throw it outside wouldn't I run into it again? So I shuddered again and said "ew, ew, ew, ew, ew". (which sounded more like "euhhhhhh" since I was thoroughly disgusted!) Finally I employed the cup trick. I grabbed a disposable cup from my "party" stash,{note: this was Lora's "pre-green phase"} and very carefully placed it over the top of the nasty little creature. My hope was that it would die under there (admittedly, cruel) before I slipped a piece of paper under it to scoop it up.

So tonight, after I got home from yoga I did just that--using a Geico advertisement. The last I saw of the slug it was in a trash bag which has been put in the outside garbage. I didn't take a long enough look to see if it was still alive...

So...THIS is why I need to get married.

But in the meantime, I'm taking applications for the immediate vacancy of "Gross Creatures Eliminator" at my house. Any takers?

and to make it better, this was one of the responses:


Sorry about your near death experience but not at all disappointed to hear about the death of your slug. Just as a point of reference, when we lived in Washington you never went outside at night barefooted. Why, you may ask? Because out there they grow slugs the size of small bananas. I guess that’s why they are called banana slugs. Guess you’ll keep your doors shut tight from now on.



Sooo...what makes you laugh these days? Share please!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday's Walk -- my Journey to the Ridge

Today's memory is pretty simple. It's the moment I fell in love with Radnor Lake and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, both close to where I live in Nashville.

I mentioned in my last post that there were 4 women from my church who were instrumental in my recovery. At their suggestion, I took a "personal retreat" for 3 days in June of 2005. I stayed at one of their houses so that I wouldn't have MY house to distract me, I stayed off my phone (SO hard) and off the internet. It was a time of drawing closer to God and learning more about myself.

On many levels I hated it, but it was exactly what I needed.

The first day I went to Radnor Lake. Honestly, I had lived here for 6 years at that point and I don't think I had ever visited before.

Now, it's important to remember that even though I was at a healthy weight I was NOT healthy. I was eating a very small amount of calories per day, and working most of those calories off. So I decided that this would be a great place to hike off the meager lunch I had eaten. I also chose the most strenuous path in the place--Garnier Ridge.

I shouldn't have. I wasn't in a good place physically and there was no one else on the path. Although I never got dangerously close to an edge, or blacked out walking (as I often did those days) the thought crossed my mind that I could pass out, hit my head on a rock, and it would take HOURS for someone to find me.

It was the first time I ever thought "I could die out here."

It was part of the turning point that my 4 friends and confidantes had prayed for. By realizing that I could die out there it finally hit home that my addiction could actually kill me. I, of course, knew that. In my head. But that was the first time my heart realized the truth.

Before the hike up the Ridge
I'm thrilled to report that I've returned to Radnor many times since that first visit. And I can now confidently hike the ridge without that awful feeling. Recovery has been amazing!

I'm not going to write a whole lot about Cheekwood, except to say that the day I went was a heat advisory day. No one was supposed to be out if they could help it. Which was actually kind of nice. First of all, I was always cold, so it felt great to me! Secondly, I got to enjoy the solace of my favorite spot of Cheekwood by myself. The Japanese water amazing.

The path leading there

A view of the garden--it was built to be enjoyed from the viewing pavilion, so I made sure to take pictures from that vantage point
part of the "outskirts" of the garden. I have this thing for walkways, roads...