This is one of those posts that could be considered a little too much information by some. They would be right. Maybe that’s why it was another one of my most popular posts.
This post has actually been published twice and happens to be my most popular post. I’m not really sure why other than there are really twisted people who read my blog.
I’m not sure what my problem is, but I have no focus. None. I can’t even seem to write a to-do list, which is bad because I have a lot to do. But I can’t seem to land on any one thing.
So I made cookies for breakfast. Because I need to go to the grocery store, but I’m struggling to write my list. And I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies that only call for peanut butter (obviously), sugar and an egg – all three ingredients we happen to have. They are wonderful with coffee. I’m talking joy-giving, life-affirming wonderful.
I probably shouldn’t even be writing this as I have work to do for three different clients, but my scattered brain has so many ideas and I figured if I could get rid of even one of them, that would be one less distracting thought. So here’s my idea.
I’m going to start a Way Back Wednesday here on the blog. I’ve been doing this blogging thing for more than a decade and there have been many, many posts over these past 10+ years. So I’m going to repost some of my favorite past posts every Wednesday, starting tomorrow.
Cheating, you say? Yeah. What of it?
See you tomorrow!
You guys! There is so much stuff going on! I had been feeling overwhelmed, but now I’m just feeling blessed. I’ve been going through the most recent online IF:Equip study on the Spiritual Disciplines and it’s been so magnificent. It has reminded me to slow down and lean into God instead of hyperventilating over my super long to-do list. Which I already knew, but sometimes you just need a different voice to remind you. I even wrote this post for Renewing the Heart Ministries about what I’ve been discovering (or re-discovering and putting into practice.) I’m still struggling in certain areas – always will, no doubt – but they are called “practices” for a reason. So let me tell you all the good stuff!
First, Grace & Such has published our first in (hopefully) a very long line of devotionals. Ten of the writers (myself included) have contributed to 30 Days of Grace. It is currently available through Amazon.com and will be available for Kindle sometime in the next month or so. I read through the book several times during the editing process and let me just tell you this. I was amazed at the wisdom and encouragement every single time I read each entry. I mean, I might be biased, but I really do think this is a lovely book. And it’s just in time for Mother’s Day! Both the title and the picture link to the Amazon store.
Next on the agenda, this Saturday, April 29th, is the Iron Sharpens Iron Conference for Women in the Reading area. (For those of you who grew up playing Monopoly but aren’t from around here, it’s pronounced “Redding”.) The ministry I’m involved with – Renewing the Heart Ministries (RTH) – is the sponsor so we’ve been planning and planning for months. We have two keynote speakers, a regular worship team, a mid-day concert and testimony by TAMMY TRENT, nine workshops in the morning and nine workshops in the afternoon, one of which I’ll be leading.
I am truly excited about this event, not to mention RTH in general. Because RTH doesn’t just put on a conference and then say, “See ya next year!” We provide resources and training and follow up and everything after the conference. We are, as our fearless leader, Diane Karchner, says, “boots on the ground” and we do much more than just host a conference once a year. Trust me when I say you’ll be hearing more about RTH. Much more.
So then, after the conference is four straight days of house cleaning because Todd’s parents will be here next Thursday. We haven’t seen them for what seems like forever and their timing is perfect because I am in desperate need of decorating help from his mom. She’s really good with colors and styles and such.
But they’re not coming to help me choose a paint color (though I’m planning on that being a bonus). They are coming because Katie graduates from college on the 6th of May. GRADUATES! FROM COLLEGE! Or camp. Whichever way you want to look at it.
After graduation, Katie will come home for the week so she can hang out with her grandparents before they go back to California. Then she will go back down to Virginia to start her real, adult life. And I gotta tell ya. As much as I wish she would be closer to home, I can’t even be sad about it. I’m just happy for her.
On Sunday, May 14th, I am going to go to church and then come home and do nothing. I’m going to truly practice Sabbath. I will not have a to do list and will only do what I want to do. And while I’m looking forward to being able to breathe for a minute, I’m pretty sure I’ll be a little forlorn that all that good stuff is over. Until the next round of good stuff.
Before I get to the culinary delights of our nation’s capitol, I wanted to tell you about our weather. I’m sure you saw it on the news. Or maybe you lived it with me. But last week we had snow. And sleet. And then snow.
It didn’t turn out to be quite the event they originally forecasted, but it was the most winter we’ve had this season. In March. Right after we’d had lovely, upper 60’s, leave the windows open, I’m ready for spring weather. Now I love me a good snow storm as much as the next fella who loves a good snow storm, but I feel kind of like winter missed its chance. I think Mother Nature should have just let us be disappointed for the year and move on. Maybe she could have made up for it next year. But to be teased by the glory that is spring like that and then smack us upside the head with what we got is kind of cruel. But maybe that’s just me.
Alright. Onto why you’re really here.
[Disclaimer – I’m afraid this post may be a letdown. There are really only two food experiences to share with you. So please, for the sake of our friendship, lower your expectations.]
We ate lunch at the Holocaust Museum Cafe after our tour because we were starving and it was the closest place to find food. I had a decent Mac & Cheese, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. Our plan was to make our way from there to Baked & Wired, procure our cupcakes and then go back to the hotel for a bit, after which we would walk over to CAVA.
So this is how it went down. We ate at the Museum Cafe, walked the couple blocks to the Smithsonian Metro station, took it to Foggy Bottom Metro station, wherein we disembarked and followed the map on my phone towards the bakery. Except we turned left out of the station instead of right and finally figured that out after two blocks. Still, we were in the midst of Georgetown and it was an interesting locale.
After turning around and passing the metro station we’d just come from, we set out for confection perfection, our steps determined and our moods light. We walked and walked and walked some more. We walked for a mile after we’d already been walking most of the day. When we finally got to Baked & Wired the line was out the door. No, I’m not kidding. Out the ever-lovin’ door. But we waited, by golly. There was no way we were leaving without the goods.
The patrons were lined up along the glass display case and the cupcakistas (you know, like barista, except they were serving baked goods instead of coffee) were grabbing the orders as fast as they could. Which was great and made the line move pretty quickly. Except here’s the thing. It took me months of practicing “Venti white chocolate mocha, 2%, with whip” in the mirror before I was comfortable ordering at Starbuck’s. I had no time to practice, people! I didn’t even have time to look at all the splendor they had to offer and make up my mind! Oh, the pressure! It was almost too much and I blurted out, “One cherry blossom cupcake, please!” because it was the main cupcake on display in honor of the Cherry Blossom Festival beginning the following week.
Do you see the gravity of this situation I’m describing? There was no chocolate in the cherry blossom cupcake. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Do you know me?
Katie, on the other hand, had the privilege of perusing the case while I kept our place in line and ordered a chocolate doom just as cool and confident as you please. Ingrate.
After the acquisition was completed, we decided to take an Uber back to the hotel. Best $4.73 I’ve ever spent.
Once in the room, we shucked our shoes and settled down for a little rest. At this point I was seriously considering room service for dinner because I didn’t think I would ever want to move again. I had walked more than 200% of my daily goal and my dogs were barking. But a nice, little nap and a growling tummy later, I was up for the next edible adventure. Thankfully we didn’t have to walk a mile for dinner, but rather about half that.
I really didn’t know what to expect, but Katie described it perfectly. Think of a Mediterranean Chipotle. Minus the salmonella, of course. You start with a base – greens, grains, pitas – you decide. Next you add your dips or spreads – these would be tzatziki and hummus and the like. Follow that with your protein. I chose falafel, but there are meats or roasted seasonal vegetables as well. Then you choose your favorite toppings. I had them add pickled onions, cucumber, cabbage slaw and crumbled feta. Finally, you pick a dressing. Yogurt dill was my choice.
And that, my friends, is a blueberry soda next to it. I’m not a big consumer of pop, but I saw Maine Root blueberry soda on tap and had to try it. It was everything I expected it to be.
There was very little conversation at dinner because we were too busy eating. It was very filling and I despaired of being able to finish. But I’m not a quitter so I stuffed myself silly. I wasn’t going to waste a drop!
We were more than pleased with our dinner experience as we walked back to the hotel. But we were too full to eat the cupcakes.
~ Can I just pause here and right a wrong? I have been referring to these as cupcakes. The correct term is cakecups because they were huge. ~
Finally we could wait no longer. We each fixed ourselves a cup of coffee and then settled in for our sugary prizes. I decided right then and there that I had chosen wisely, even if it had been under duress. It was a vanilla cake with big chunks of maraschino cherries and a smooth cherry butter cream on top. I was NOT disappointed.
And judging from the look of bliss on Katie’s face, she was not mad about her choice, either. We also decided we would be stopping there on our way out of the city the next morning.
Which we did. I dropped her off and then drove around the very large block. She jumped back in the car with four cakecups (because we had to get one for each of the boys – duh) and a vanilla latte for me. And then we were for home!
Except the GPS told me to turn down a street that was crazy backed up so I kept going, but the rerouting couldn’t keep up with me and we finally turned around and I pulled up a side street to readjust the GPS. There was no parking from the corner up to the next house, but we weren’t actually parking so I pulled over. And then saw the sign that said, “NO PARKING Unless Approved by the Mongolian Embassy”, which we were not. But I didn’t even care because I had chocolate cakecups, a vanilla latte and the remnants of joy from a delightful day in DC. And I also kept the car running and could have easily made my getaway had Katie spotted a Hun coming. Yes. That’s how I pictured it. Men dressed like this, chasing after us, waiving swords and yelling loudly.
Nobody chased us (I may have even been a little disappointed because just think how much better my story would have been) and we got headed the right way. As we were cruising down the Beltway, we started reminiscing about our dinner the night before. There were smiles and sighs and everything. Then Katie looked it up and it turns out there was a CAVA only 4 miles out of our way! So we changed our plans, took the detour and enjoyed another visit to our new favorite restaurant. I loved it so much I even toyed with the idea of opening a franchise by us. Except I’ve never had any desire to be a franchise owner and I don’t know the first thing about it. So if any of you live in my area and are looking for a new, up and coming restaurant to own, let’s chat.
Once home and settled, we had our cakecups. And you know that part about buying four cakecups because of the boys? Well, it didn’t actually work out that way. The excuse I’m going with is that I’m bad at math and we’ll just leave it there.
Katie is home for spring break (her last spring break as an undergrad) and, as a history major who is mostly fascinated with WWII, she’s always wanted to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. We happened to have Marriott points that were going to expire in April, so she and I took advantage this past Wednesday. It was a gorgeous day for a drive, though rather gusty as we drove over the I-95 Susquehanna bridge. Still, we made really good time and were lucky enough to get checked into our hotel early.
Then we set out for the museum. We found the metro station, made the appropriate transfer and ended up on the mall at the Smithsonian, right in between these beauties:
Those dots in the sky means my lens was dirty. Oops. For those of you who are photographers, I know. I am a breaker of a cardinal rule. I’ll have to live with the knowledge of my transgression for the rest of my life. Or at least every time I look at these pictures.
From there we walked over to the Holocaust Museum:
If you’ve never been there you can imagine how intense the experience is. I didn’t learn much beyond what I already knew, however, I don’t think I can adequately put into words the thoughts and emotions that each exhibit provoked. Sadness, indignation, disbelief, amazement are just a few. The main exhibit begins on the fourth floor and works its way down to the second floor, following a timeline which begins with 1933. The fourth floor talks about the rise of Hitler’s power and the Nazi Assault (1933 to 1939). The third floor is the Final Solution to the Jewish “problem” (ghettos, labor camps, death camps – 1940 to 1945). And finally the Last Chapter on the second floor – the end of the war and the liberation.
I didn’t take many pictures in the museum, at least not of the exhibits. It didn’t feel right to me. But here are a few of the photos I did take:
How anybody could honestly believe these atrocities never happened is beyond me. I highly recommend this somber experience if you ever find yourself in the DC area.
No trip with Katie is complete without good food. Come back for the next installment of KT, DC and ME wherein I shall make you drool.
I finally saw Hidden Figures yesterday. Katie is home for Spring Break and even though she had already seen it, she went with me so I didn’t have to go alone. Because I was prepared to go to the movies all by myself. I don’t remember the last time I wanted to see a movie this much.
Knowing the gist of the storyline, there were no surprises. At least not where the movie itself was concerned. I knew I would be mad and I knew I would laugh and I knew I would be in awe of the brainpower portrayed. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how much it made me miss my dad. I wanted to discuss just about every scene with him. I wanted to chat about the space program and computers and women in the engineering field back in the early 60’s and the Civil Rights movement and race issues in the workplace and, and, and. Even though he didn’t work for NASA or the space program, he was an engineer working as a civilian with the Defense Department on big computers just like in the movie, using the same programming language (Fortran) just like in the movie. And he wore the same glasses as a lot of the men in the movie, so there’s that.
Apparently the movie had a very similar effect on Katie when she saw it the first time. As sorry as I was that it made her cry (apparently buckets), it made my heart sing just a little that she thinks of her Papa in the same way I do.
Nostalgias aside, it is truly one of the best movies I’ve seen. What amazingly smart women! Witnessing what these brilliant minds had to endure simply because of the color of their skin and, to a lesser extent, because of their gender, was appalling! There were a lot of slanderous comments from the small audience, myself included. I’m not usually given to violence, but I did have the strong desire to cause bodily harm to some of those ignoramuses on the screen. By the end of the movie we were clapping and, if the tiny crowd had been in closer proximity, I’m pretty sure there would have been high-fives all around.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I can’t recommend it enough. I look forward to watching it again when it comes out on DVD. Next time I’ll be a little more prepared for those tugs on my heart, though.
Oh my, but it’s been two-and-a-half months since my last post. I’m sure that is a great disappointment to my reader. Or readers. I think I have two, now.
I have many things to tell you! 2017 is looking very promising with an awful lot to look forward to. Today I’m just going to give you some of the highlights and then I’ll expand on them later. (See what I’m doing here? This is my way of making sure I have at least a few more posts in line. Brilliant, don’t you think?)
Okay. Now that we’ve agreed on the genius of my plan, let’s carry on, shall we?:
I’ve been consistently busy designing websites and thoroughly enjoy the challenge. It’s both logical and creative all at the same time.
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There are exciting plans for Grace & Such in the works, not the least of which is the fact we’re publishing a 30 Day devotional, hopefully by April. I read all the devotions several times while editing the book and all I can say is, I know how to surround myself with talented people. They really make me look good!
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Renewing the Heart Ministries, the regional ministry I’ve been involved with for the past year or so, is gearing up for our first conference at the end of April. There is so much more to tell you, but you’re going to have to wait. Suffice it to say it’s super exciting stuff! (And check out the website designed by Yours truly.)
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Todd and I are starting a new blogging adventure. Well, what I really mean is I’m starting a new blogging adventure and he’s coming along for the ride. Well, what I really mean is he’s coming along for the ride because he doesn’t actually have a choice. Well, he has a choice, but he’s being very supportive. Well, what I mean by “very supportive” is he says, “Whatever.” Due to the first three items above, I don’t have a target date for this new endeavor. Trust me when I say you’ll be among the first to know. As a show of my affection for you, I’ve given you a hint by revealing the logo my very talented friend, Gail, made for us. My requirements were that the characters looked like us, except not fat or old and she certainly delivered!
Katie graduates from college in May. Did you read that people? GRADUATES. FROM COLLEGE! Yikes times infinity, man.
I’ve booked our vacation for this summer. With two adult children, being all adulty and everything, there’s no telling if or when we’ll be able to plan another family vacation. This could be our last one for a while. I hope not, but it’s going to be fabulous and memorable just in case.
I’m back to eating healthy again. The difference this time is that I’ve been doing it for about two months now and it’s FINALLY starting to make a difference.
And that’s all you’re getting. Seven little teasers to bring you back. As P.T. Barnum famously said, “Always leave them wanting more.” Of course, I think he was talking about fierce animals and death defying acts. This isn’t quite that exciting, but I think you should come back anyway.
Yesterday I had a bunch of errands I wanted to run. The weather was fairly mild and I knew today was supposed to be bitterly cold. Life, however, had other plans so I only managed one errand. I’m not complaining, though, because I did get to take lunch to my convalescing friend and then meet another friend for dinner.
Wait. I AM complaining. Because as we all know, it’s part of my charm. I mean, I’m not complaining about sharing meals with friends. Those were the highlights of my Wednesday to be sure! What I’m complaining about is that I had to get out today in the bitter cold to run those errands.
It was 20 degrees with a wind chill of 3 as I was getting ready to leave this morning. Some of you live in Southern California and have no idea what 20 degrees with a wind chill of 3 feels like so let me try to explain it. Put on a bathing suit or, if your more modest, shorts and a tank top and stand in a meat locker. Then have someone direct a leaf blower at you from about 3 feet away. If the wind from the leaf blower is cold then yes, that’s kind of what it’s like.
I started the car and then ran back in the house to do a few things. I threw on a scarf and gloves and my jacket and pocketed my cell phone. As I was getting into my car I heard, “Hello? Jen? Hello??” That’s when I realized I had butt dialed (or maybe side pocket dialed would be more accurate) my friend, Lynne and it was coming through the car’s blue tooth. So we chatted for a few as I drove away and it was lovely! I haven’t heard her actual voice in years and I hadn’t realized how much I missed it. (Our schedules didn’t work out to get together when Todd and I were in Arkansas last summer.) And get this – we talked politics AND religion and it was still lovely! We didn’t have to do too much family catching up because we do keep up with each other on Facebook.
Anyway, chatting with her for that 10 or 15 minutes made me a little nostalgic and I thought I’d share. Unfortunately, I haven’t scanned in most of my pictures. (You see, there was a time when pictures weren’t digital, but you took pictures with this thing called film. Then you had to take the film to a store and have it developed into pictures.) But here are a few at the bottom that are sure to be met with hilarity by some, humiliation by others.
Lynne and her family moved into a house up the street from us many, many moons ago. Her two youngest and my two stair-stepped and became fast friends. Lynne and I were the kind of moms who kicked our kids out of the house when A) it was really nice outside; and/or B) they were on our last nerve. Her kids were just part of the family as my kids were a part of hers. I got onto her kids and she got onto mine. I loved her kids and she loved mine. It was a thing of beauty. Now they’re all grown. The youngest of the lot (Katie) has one semester of college left. The others are real adults doing real adult things like grownups. But whether they like it or not, they will always be just like this in my heart.
Hi! Let me re-introduce myself. I’m Jen. I’m full of the best intentions. So many good intentions. Really. It’s my follow through that stinks. For example, how many times over the past 10 years of this blog have I seemingly dropped off the face of the earth? That’s a rhetorical question and does not require an answer, but if it DID require an answer it would be something like a bajillion times. I mean, I didn’t blog at all during October or November. And I actually had a lot to tell you!
So I’m going to ease back into this blogging thing with a short post and tell you what I did this morning. Because nothing says, “Hey! I’m back!” like sharing an embarrassing moment.
Let me set the scene. There were towels in the dryer, clothes in the washer, an empty laundry basket and an identical laundry basket full of socks, underwear and more towels to be washed. So I moved the clean towels from the dryer to the empty basket and set it aside. I then put the wet clothes into the dryer and got it started. Then I dumped the clean towels from their basket back into the washer, totally ignoring the basket with the dirty clothes.
As I was dumping them I thought to myself, “where are the socks and underwear?” and “these towels look so fluffy and fresh.” Thankfully I realized what I had done before I started the washer. So I righted my wrong and everything is as it should be.
And the photo I used for this post? While I do my laundry from the comfort of my own home, this image is a fair representation of me getting that last little sock from the back of the washer. Because I’m vertically challenged. Horizontally I’m a boss. (As in I take really good naps.) But between my lack of height and my short arms I have to practically crawl into the washer sometimes. Thankfully, I have one of those grabber thingies to make my life easier. It’s just that sometimes I forget I have it, even though it’s hanging right next to the dryer.
I struggle, people.
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Also, this is an affiliate link. If you click on the image it will take you to Amazon.com where you can purchase your own Nifty Nabber! Or not.