Wednesday, April 23, 2014

schizophrenic maybe

Hello, my name is Sarah, and sometimes I have no clue who I really am.

The "most-days me" loves serving coffee, is sometimes witty and often blunt, can binge-watch fun TV shows for days, loves chocolate more than anyone should, and seems to always have a checklist of to-dos in hand.

But then....

Some days I think maybe the real me is quieter, less sarcastic, a better listener, dreams more often, worries less, detests TV and spends all her time outdoors sketching flowers and thinking deeply. She's always kind and gentle and is never out of place riding a bicycle with a kitten in the basket.

Some days the real me is from another time. Jane Austen and Downton Abby feel like home (the downstairs though, because let's be at least a little realistic). Barring time travel, all I need is a huge antique store and some friends to invite over for tea. Needlework and dances at the town hall are the name of the game.

Some days I see myself working in a garden, listening to folk music, tending chickens and flour-dusted from breadmaking. I spend my days simply, enjoying our little seaside home inside an old lighthouse. It's sort of isolated and quiet but the view and nearby town are lovely. (This is an actual lifelong dream of mine - no mocking)

Some days I live on a horse ranch in Montana, making a living off refinishing furniture and Etsy.
Some days we're in a tiny studio apartment in the heart of a big city, two farmers markets within walking distance. Maybe in Europe.

Some days I picture our home well-kept and always entertaining friends, visions of dining tables with beautiful linens and carefully chosen centerpieces dance in my head.
Some days I long for a drafty old farmhouse with chipped, mismatching china. It's a bit messy but lovely and inviting with a year-round fireside glow.


How do I know which of these people is me? Are they all solid contenders for the future or will I end up as some weird amalgam all crammed into one? Do I just have a seriously overactive imagination? Am I glimpsing myself in parallel universes, the fate of which lies in the minute decisions I make today -- buy a cantaloupe, change your fate, that kind of thing? I doubt it.

Sometimes I feel like I have no clue who I am, but other times I feel like trying to change the little things (like being a little less sarcastic, maybe...just an random example - cough cough) is just as impossible as knowing the future.
I trust that God has an amazing plan for me and for our little family. I'm not worried because I know whatever the outcome, it's going to be great.

Mostly, I wonder, does everyone feel like this sometimes or is it just me?


Sunday, April 20, 2014

blessings & a recipe

I just feel so blessed today. Blessed to be surrounded by my amazing family, blessed to have plenty of food on our table, and most of all, blessed to be redeemed by an empty grave. Outside the sky is clear blue and wisteria is in bloom all over town. I am truly and deeply blessed.

I am also blessed to have a husband willing to try anything I manage to concoct in our kitchen, such as this surprisingly delicious Greek Chicken & Spinach Phyllo Pie:

Ingredients:
- 1/2 lb chopped grilled chicken (I cheated and used pre-grilled frozen chicken nuggets from Tyson which are great as a quick salad topper or a dinner corner-cutter)
- 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon, allspice, and salt
- a few splashes of hot sauce (here we use Texas Pete!)
- 1/2 cup tomato/spaghetti sauce
- 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
- 10 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

  • Preheat oven to 375F and spray a 9" pie pan with nonstick spray.
  • To make filling, heat oil in a large pot, then add the chicken, onion, and garlic and cook till fragrant.
  • Stir in tomato sauce and simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Add spinach and feta, then egg whites and stir until mixture is thoroughly combined.
  • Lay 3 sheets of phyllo at different angles to cover the bottom of the pie pan.
  • Spoon 1/3 of filling into shell then top with another 2-3 phyllo sheets. Repeat till all filling is used.
  • Use 2-3 phyllo sheets to top pie and kitchen scissors to trim crust.
  • Optional: Brush top with egg white or butter.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes. Let sit 5 min before serving.

Though I forgot to take a picture of this awesome savory pie, it was definitely tasty and going into our regular dinner rotation. I think it'd be even better with artichokes added, but alas, Strider thinks they're "icky". 

Update: weather didn't cooperate for me to finish the nightstands last weekend, but it's on my "Alright Sarah, you definitely just have to finish this project now" to-do list for the week.

Recipe adapted from the WW PointsPlus Power Foods Cookbook.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

bananas

Quick recap of the last couple weeks:
  1. my "but-weren't-you-3yo-like-yesterday?" baby sister got married last friday!!! so excited and happy for them!
  2. it's market week here so work has been bananas. business people apparently can't get coffee fast enough.
  3. plus side - strider has had loads of overtime so his check will be bananas too (all the better for doing responsible things like paying off students loans. wah wah)
  4. i borrowed a sander from my friend steve and project nightstands should be complete this weekend
  5. it's officially too hot in our apartment to buy actual bananas. in april. i mean, really? stupid parking lot with no shade on our south-facing kitchen. anyone have tips on how to make fruit stay unripened as long as possible?
  6. lastly, my aunt showed me this video, which I just love. this kid is kinda bananas too, in an awesome way.



Lastly, life may be crazy (b-a-n-a-n-a-s), but it's also really great!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

a to z: book edition

Taken from Jessica at Polished Arrow, who snagged it from Jessy at The Artsy Cajun, who borrowed it from Charlene at From Bisons to Buckeyes, and apparently on and on a billion times because that's how this awesome blog-o-sphere works, here's a fun book-lovers survey that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and taking! Let me know if you post it somewhere else so I can read your answers too!

Author I've Read The Most Books By: it's a 3-way tie: Jane Austen (brilliant and timeless), Jasper Fforde (the Thursday Next literary detective series is wildly addictive even if you don't like detective fiction), and Walter Moers (whom I adore for writing insane-in-the-membrane kids books for grown-ups) 

Best Series Ever: The Chronicles of Narnia...or Harry Potter...or Boxcar Children if my 10-y-o self gets a vote 

Currently Reading: The Alchemaster's Apprentice and Red Letter Revolution

Drink of Choice While Reading: hands-down, chai tea

EReader or Physical Book: don't get me started - physical books win 100%. I consider almost no eReader argument valid. Haters gon' hate.

Fictional Character I Probably Would Have Dated In High School: oh gosh, I had a serious crush on Marius from Les Miserables for a while. I doubt we would've dated though cause I played it pretty safe and his whole involved-in-a-subversive-group thing would've scared me off. Also, I was mad awkward. 

Glad I Gave This Book A Chance: The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins - it definitely isn't my normal kind of read but I loved it and have since referred it several friends as well

Hidden Gem Book: either Free for All, which is a crazy funny look at librarians, or this Ghandi autobiography which was breathtaking and incredible from cover to cover - what a fascinating life! 

Important Moment In My Reading Life: In 4th grade when our school librarian would'nt let me check out Les Miserables (among other titles) because it was above my proverbial clearance level for our school. In response, I became a frequent patron of our local public library and realized that no one should ever be denied books just because they aren't tall enough or seemingly mature enough to make a cut (and for the record, I was fine)

Just Finished: basically every cookbook and home organization book I can carry out "da p-lib" 

Kind of Books I Won't Read: smut/brain garbage, graphic novels (I have trouble following dialogue in this format), and anything by Nicolas Sparks 

Longest Book I've Ever Read: Anna Karenina, in one sitting, on a 12-hr bus trip to Orlando for our senior trip. 

Major Book Hangover Because Of: Harry Potter. It was such a part of my childhood - I don't know if I'll ever fully accept that the last page was the last page.

Number of Book Cases I Own: much less than it used to be. In truth, I've been working hard to slim down my book buying and instead, only purchase those I cannot stand to not own a copy of. This somewhat painful transition was made in hopes of better supporting local libraries and in efforts to keep life simple.

One Book That I've Read Multiple Times: Little Women, every year at Christmas 

Preferred Place To Read: snuggled in bed or an obliging window sill, if available. Either way, a blanket is a must!

Quote That Inspires Me From A Book I've Read: "It is a warm green rain with love in its pockets for spring is here, and does not dream of death." - Richard Brautigan 

Reading Regret: The Lovely Bones. Didn't bother to finish it. Such a waste of time. 

Series That I Started But Still Need To Finish: None I can think of at the moment. Once I start something, I'm pretty dedicated to the end. 

Three Of My Fav Books: Alice in Wonderland, Thirteen & 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, and Pride & Prejudice 

Unapologetic Fan-Girl For: Walt Whitman & Lewis Carroll

Very Excited For This Release: I'm not great at keeping track of new releases, however, I will definitely be looking forward to Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey prequel to be released sometime in 2015. Agonizing wait

Worst Bookish Habit: 100% judging books by their title and cover. While I know it's bad book-lover form to do so, I make no apologies - it's my system and it works for me

X Marks The Spot - Start at the Top of My Shelf and Pick the 27th Book: This collection of Richard Brautigan short stories and poetry. He was insane, but there's something about him I love. 

Your Latest Book Purchase: Honestly, I have no clue. I mostly just put books I want on an Amazon wish list and drop hints so the hubs knows which ones to get me during the next gift-worthy holiday.

Zzzz-Snatcher Book (The Book That Kept You Up Way Too Late): Probably the Hunger Games. Book one and two were interested and so easy to read that I lost track of time...however, I definitely did not have the same problem with book three...what a drag


See wasn't that fun!
Also, quick aside - my baby sister is getting married on Friday! What what?! Too crazy-awesome to handle!

Friday, March 21, 2014

happy.

After lots of work, cooking, and doing dishes this week, here we are, chilling at my mom's so Strider can watch endless bball (aka the perfect opportunity for me to catch up on reading some of my favorite blogs). 

My friday started at 6 am with a green apron and customers who apparently couldn't get their coffee fast enough. Normally, this is fine and just part of the barista job description, except mid-shift today I accidentally spilled dumped an entire 20 oz vat of boiling Blonde roast all over my hand slash apron slash pants slash everything. We were really busy so I quickly ran some cold water over my hand and kept going. 30 mins later my skin was still throbbing, red, and angry. I used a truly glorious burn cream which helped, but several customers were like: "What the deal, Sarah? Why no funny song and dance today with my latte?" Honestly, I wanted so badly to suggest that maybe if you're irritable and 20 min late for work, this isn't the best time to stop and stand in line for a hot beverage...or maybe, just maybe baristas are here to make coffee, not necessarily to memorize your name and complicated beverage while also performing a simultaneous comedy routine and motivational therapy session. However, I did not. And eventually we (my hand epidermis, crappy attitude, and I) got over it and enjoyed the rest of the day.

So now that I'm caught up on internet reading and my hand is all better, I'm just sitting here, rocking out to my new favorite song, watching the video over and over because it just doesn't seem to get old. The moral of the story is, even if your day started with a bath in 200 degree brown caffeine water, this song does exactly what it says: Happy. 

Simple and awesome for a weekend night. Let down your hair and dance around a bit.
"Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with tambourine and lyre." -Psalm 149:3
Though Pharrell isn't exactly using a lyre or dedicating this jam to the Big Man, I'm taking it as full opportunity to revel in the love of my awesome Creator, in whom I find true joy.

Fun fact: my favorite scene is at 1:30-1:38. Just. so. awesome.
Happy dancin!


Note: The author does not endorse this musical artist as a whole. I just really like this particular song.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

diy framed chalkboard

For a while now, chalkboards have been making a huge comeback in home decor. And with good reason...they're super versatile and pretty! I've had my eye on a few ideas but I didn't want to jump in until I had a clear plan (a rare ideology for me). I had put the idea on a crafting back-burner until I recently saw a blogger who used a large chalkboard for quotes in the kitchen. Most kitchen boards just display the week's menu, but that's impractical for me since I know for sure that I would never get around to changing it every week. However, the idea of putting up a quote or Scripture is definitely one I can warm up to.

I started at our local thrift store to hunt down a frame but their prices were surprisingly high for scary motel art. I hopped over to Hobby Lobby just out of curiosity and found a gorgeous empty frame in the clearance section...90% OFF! Seven bucks later, I walked out with a frame and a plan. I measured the inner frame and went to Lowe's for an 18"x24" piece of plywood. I already had a can of chalkboard paint at home so that afternoon I was all set to start.
Two coats of paint later and I hit a huge speed bump. The paint was fine but the texture of the plywood was still coming through. Maybe this would have been remedied with 8-10 coats of paint, but ain't nobody got time for that!

I headed back to Hobby Lobby and ended up purchasing a dry-erase board with the same dimensions as the frame and since the board had a smooth chipboard back, I knew the chalkboard finish would be much cleaner. Using wood glue and a couple stacks of books, I adhered the dry-erase side of the board to the plywood. 

Next, I started over with the paint, using four crosshatching layers. While this was drying and we finally had a sunny day, I took the frame outside with some leftover soft-white spray paint. Once all the pieces were dry and gorgeous, I used a medium coarseness sanding block and lots of elbow grease to give the frame some character. 
The next step is very important -- priming the chalkboard. It says it clearly on the paint can, but for some reason, lots of people skip this step and then are frustrated when the chalk "stains" the board or it doesn't clean properly. Simply take a piece of chalk and rub it sideways across the entire surface of the board. Clean with a felt eraser then a wet rag and it should be good to go!
To attach the board to the frame, I laid it flat and used a staple gun to bridge the gap between the wood and frame. Inevitably, the board will not be flush with the frame, especially if you have someone at the store cut the plywood for you. That's okay though, cause no one will be able to tell from the front. Post-stapling the back looked a little like Frankenstein...but I wanted to make sure it was really secure since it's a bit heavy.
Then just flip it over and get creative! I opted for a Chalk Ink marker since I like the cleaner lines and no dust, but regular chalk will do the job too. This weekend, I'm getting hardware to hang it in the kitchen over our table, replacing the current poster, but for right now, it's in the living room. Ultimately, I'm aiming to put up a new bible verse at the beginning of each month. Our main door to the apartment opens into the kitchen and I spend lots of time in there now, so it's definitely the central location for Scripture to be seen. And what a promise to have hope in!
Cost (not including everything I already had at home):
Frame = $7 (originally $59.99!)
Plyood = $5
Dry-erase Board = $6
Total = >$20

Note to self: work on writing in straighter lines before showing off stuff like this. Oops

Monday, March 10, 2014

blackout blessings

After yet another ice storm and two days without power, Strider and I are getting back to normal life. 
Can I just say, what is up with the South this winter?!
img source: newsobserver.com 3-7-14
Friday night we had an awesome sleepover with some of our best friends who graciously let us crash in the guest bedroom. For dinner, I made Turkey-Pesto Meatballs with spaghetti for everyone and it was delicious - definitely a new addition to the recipe binder. Plus, I got to have a cup of coffee Saturday morning on their couch with a very snuggly Reece beside me -- she's extra sweet-cakes in the a.m.! 

As Mark started making breakfast, we sadly had to rush out the door. I then proceeded to work a 14-hour event at my Events Coordinator job. Needless to say, I was thoroughly spent by midnight. However...I got a text from Strider an hour before I got off saying that our power had been miraculously restored. Praise God!

Weighing on my mind over these last couple days are the tons of posts complaining about the power outages...on Facebook...from their smartphones. Honestly, it made me pretty sad. Yes, not having electricity is a bummer. And yes, having trees fall on the roads and power lines is a inconvenience. But it appears that no one was hurt or lost a loved one. Property can be repaired, streets will be cleared, and everyone will be back online in no time. 
In the end...is it really worth getting so upset over?
Plus, while venting about how long it might possibly take to restore everything, let's pause together and think of the dozens of people out dealing with live wires and dangerous conditions just trying their best to make it right.

But here we are at Monday. And with my rare and glorious afternoon off, I just spent 20 minutes hauling out basically every item in our refrigerator. Though I hate to do it, I am embracing the chance to get a jump on spring by cleaning out our fridge properly. I am taking advantage of the opportunity to not replace all the super-processed unnecessary items that my new cookbook-reading hobby has enabled us to do without. I am looking forward to a fresh start Monday in my kitchen (which my sister always says is a great day to start things). And I am really loving that after a weekend of darkness and ice, today it is 70 degrees and the windows of the apartment are thrown open. Because after all, when you weigh a couple days without power against everything else in the world, I don't have room to feel anything but extremely blessed.

And to all the city employees and energy company workers out there that have worked so hard over the last 48 hours, who probably feel like there is still an insurmountable amount yet to be done...I truly and deeply appreciate you. I could not do what you do and I am filled with gratitude. If it were up to me, there'd be free Starbucks in it for you all! Since it isn't, I hope a simple "thank you" can suffice.