Monday, February 28, 2011

Seattle Weekend

This past weekend David and I enjoyed a little trip to Seattle.  We stayed at the 11th Avenue Inn, a "charming 1906 bed and breakfast" according to their website - it was everything they claimed and more.  The hospitality was great - breakfast, one of my main requirements, was delicious, and the room was perfect.  Location was super convenient - an easy and interesting walk to Pike's Place Market along vibrant Pine or Pike Street.  If you're going to Seattle and need a cozy and convenient place to stay, I definitely recommend staying at the 11th Avenue Inn.  If you're a practical person, just the amount of money you will save on parking should be enough reason to stay here. 

It was a typical Seattle day in February, cold, windy and wet, but it was beautiful.  Seattle has some amazing architecture, futuristic, gothic, Victorian you name it, they have it.  Their library was definitely something special - never seen anything quite like it.

Our adventures included the obvious - Pike's Place and the Space Needle.  But we also found some pretty awesome local treats, including Area 51, a modern furniture store, and Pinto Bistro, an ambient + delicious Thai and Japanese restaurant.  Of course we found ourselves in the middle of a protest, but that made for some interesting people watching moments.

All in all, great weekend and definitely made me realize just how many treasures there are so close to home.  Rich history, culture, and discovery may be in our own backyard.  Fairy Doors and Wanderlust knows what I'm talking about.  I'm looking forward to discovering the gems in Oregon and the Northwest in the coming years.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rainbow Cake

My beautiful cousin Marina is a phenomenal baker.  Even at fifteen, she is a much better baker than I. She makes all kinds of baked goodness, I especially love her delicious brownies from scratch. So it made sense that when I came across this Rainbow Cake on Love and Olive Oil's blog, I immediately contacted Marina and asked her if she wanted to take on the challenge. Without hesitation she took on the challenge and baked it for her 15th birthday party.  I think she did a mighty awesome job, don't you?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Married for a Mission

"One of the missing ingredients of couples today is they do not have a mission; they do not have a sense of God having called them together to do something as a couple." - Dennis Rainey, marriage expert

I recently came across an article that attempts to answer the question: What's the Point of Marriage?  The article follows the story of a couple and their marriage journey.  They soon realize that it is when they looked outside of themselves, and worked together in ministry to God did they became stronger as a couple.  

I totally agree with this point, especially reflecting on the bonding David and I shared in ministry with Night Strike and Compassion Connect - those were pivotal building blocks in our relationship.  The reminder of course is to never stop working together in ministry, even when it isn't so obvious what the work God is calling us to is.

Counselor James H. Olthuis writes, “To try to keep love just for us ... is to kill it slowly .... We are not made just for each other; we are called to a ministry of love to everyone we meet and in all we do. In marriage, too, Jesus' words hold true: in saving our lives we lose them, and in losing our lives in love to others, we drink of life more deeply."

Now that we are in a less defined context for ministry, we must prayerfully be conscious of the many opportunities to serve that exist all around.  Such a good reminder:

"He has placed you in your home, your family, your work, your church, your neighborhood and has said, in essence: "All this is yours. I'm giving you a mission together to care for the people around you. It's a big job, and you'll need each other. Together, join hands and make a difference."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Review: These Is My Words

Historical fiction was never my favorite genre, and when my grandpa would watch his western movies I would usually yawn and get distracted with something else - but Nancy E Turner definitely kept my attention through to the end.  This fictional diary is an action, drama, love story and historical account that is anything but predictable.  Sarah is a smart, witty, and tough girl who I quickly fell in love with and rooted for throughout the story.  Her journey to the Arizona Territories was much more complex than what we were ever taught in 6th grade or by playing the Oregon Trail game, although some of those themes and challenges were definitely present.  Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a gripping story that is full of love, adventure and thought-provoking moments. This one may even come pretty close to my favorite, which come to think of is also historical fiction about women - Thousand Splendid Suns. Perhaps I have a thing for this genre after all.  Thanks Kirsten for recommending this one! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Smoothie + Coupon = Awesome

I love smoothies and I love good deals.  When I saw this ad in the paper, I didn't even look for scissors.  Instantly, this deal was ripped out and ready to go.   Thank you Jamba for the $1 Pomegranate Paradise - I really enjoyed it!  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Raspberry Mousse Brownies & Steak

What's cooking this week? 

Cuban Flank Steak w/ rice - use leftovers to make burritos later in the week for lunch
White Chili w/ cornbread

Our apartments are having a pizza party on Friday.  We love our bi-monthly gatherings the management puts on.  Looking forward to spending some time with our neighbors!  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love: Warmth

I absolutely love the color of these handwarmers.  I used to have a problem with my hands always being cold.  Then, I started running and occasionally eating crystallized ginger (actually I only ate the ginger 2 or 3 times), and now no longer have that problem.  There are times (especially when running) that my hands get really hot.  Strange how that completely changed.  But I would still wear these handwarmers. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love: Valentines day

I am a sucker for Valentine's day. Perhaps its because my first Scholastic book order was for a Valentine doily art project.  Or that in 4th grade I had a secret admirer who showered me with gifts leading up to Valentine's day and then leaving me a "Will you go out with me, check yes or no" message on the day itself.   Or perhaps the greatest reason of all: eating chocolate to my hearts content - no guilt allowed. 

Regardless, once again I am excited.  I'm making heart shaped brownies for a ladies night this weekend, and am fully prepared to wear my red tights on Monday.  

I hope my wonderful cousin Kat will make her delicious Devil's Food cake, comparable to, if not better than this one.   

And if I had more time, I would make these heart shaped tea bags for all my tea drinking friends and family.  Life got busy this month, but perhaps next year. 

Have a great Valentine's weekend friends! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Never Walking Alone

I'm humming along to this song and processing the beauty of never walking alone.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Last 5 Reads

I'm not an extraordinary reader like my husband, who is constantly eating up textbooks for pleasure.   It takes me a while to connect with a book, and if I don't connect right away, it may take me months to come back and finish it off. Yet somehow, as I was cleaning our apartment this weekend, I noticed a hefty stack of books on my nightstand. I looked through them and realized I had read all of them in the past several months.  Perhaps I am a reader after all.

They're quite a random selection of books, but hey, I'm a random kind of girl.   It's fun to re-visit these books and ponder on my feelings towards them.

The Best Stories of Fyodor Dosteovsky - Extremely awkward, but also explains so much about the Russian psyche.  As far as I can recollect this was the first book I've read by a Russian author, and boy is it a completely different experience.

The Shack - I can't believe it took me this long to read the book, but I'm glad I read it. It was very timely and reminded me of the intimacy and closeness I have with Papa - something that I needed to be reminded of.  If you haven't read it, I recommend it. If you've heard weird things about it and resisted reading it - stop resisting and just read it.  Eugene Peterson is right, it very well may be the Pilgrim's Progress of our time.

The Giver - Hated the ending, but definitely a book that can be discussed in a million different ways.  Even though somehow I managed to get away with not reading it until now, it makes sense why its a required reading in many schools.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress - It was so fun to read a book that had references I understood!  I don't come from a mennonite background, but there were so many references to food and culture that I could simply relate to, which made it fun to read.  Made me laugh for sure.

Changing the Odds for Children At-Risk - Finally a book that looks at the educational system in a more constructive and positive way! Neuman's examples of what works, and why really made me think of programs in Portland and the need to be persistent in making sure the ones that have the qualities that work stay around because longevity is what makes greatest difference of them all.  SUN Service System must remain (and be implemented everywhere!).

What are you reading these days? Any recommendations?
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