Monday, December 31, 2012

Document: December

Oh. my. goodness!  I can't believe another year is gone!

12 in 2012.
I posted an update of my progress through the year a few days ago, but I really feel like having set goals helped me to use my time wisely and productively.  I'll be doing something a bit different for 2013, but it was so exciting to see how much I was able to accomplish this year.

Even though I ended the year with a decent record (90 books, 41 new books), I only read four books in December, and two of those were textbooks I finished for school.  I was pretty busy with Finals and Holiday Baking, but I think the biggest difference was that I began crocheting a lot more this month instead of reading to relax.  I am really excited to get back on track with reading this next year ;)

December was the month of baked goods, but due to some camera malfunctions, I didn't get to post any pics!  I was able to make lots of cookies and fudge, AND Doug and I were able to cook and eat at home much more than we had been during the first week of the month.

As for January, you'll just have to be patient ;)  I have picked some new goals for 2013, and I am so excited to move forward next year!!!

Delicious: Meal Plan

Doug and I went shopping last week after Christmas for enough food to last for two and a half weeks!  Thanks to my list of Weekly Goals, I realized I never posted our meal plan; this plan will cover us until we leave for our trip to Florida ;)

Monday (12/31) -- Tuna Melts
Tuesday -- Fish Fry w/ Potato Fries
                  Eating Out w/ Family
Wednesday --  Steak w/ Mexican Rice
                        Pork Stir Fry w/ Fried Rice
Thursday -- Meaty Spaghetti w/ Spinach
Friday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Rice
Saturday -- Hamburger Helper
Sunday -- Beef Roast w/ Potatoes, Peppers, and Onion

Monday (1/7) -- Sliced Steak and Spinach Alfredo
Tuesday -- Eat Out for my Birthday!!!
                  Breaded Pork w/ Baked Potatoes
Wednesday -- Soup and Sandwiches
                       Buffalo Chicken, Cheddar, and Spinach Pasta
Thursday -- Steamed Shrimp w/ Cheddar Broccoli Rice
Friday -- Steak w/ Fried Rice
Saturday -- Grilled Chicken w/ White Cheddar Shells
Sunday -- Pork Fajitas w/ Fajita Rice
Monday (1/14) -- Tuna Helper

De and Doug's Den: Favorite Books of 2012

After posting about the books I read this year, I was asked about what my favorite books/series of the year were.  A lot of the books and series that I love I have blogged about, so I'm going to try to focus on the new books I read this year ;)

The Alchemyst Series by Michael Scott
I had read the first few books of the series prior to this year, but The Necromancer and The Warlock were absolutely brilliant (and I am expecting the same from the conclusion of the series, The Enchantress).  For someone who loves all mythology, this blend of Egyptian, Norse, Greek, Roman, and more (including historical figures like Virginia Dare and Machiavelli) has so much action and intrigue; the plot is ever-changing and rushing forward like a river, while the characters try to adapt to maintain control.  Just excellent.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This series (and movie) swept the nation in 2012, but it is the first book in the series that really captures the quintessential struggles of life under a strict regime, so strict that children are forced to fight to the death annually.  The other books of the trilogy (Catching Fire and Mockingjay) are also excellent books (and contain much more action and perspective than the opening book of the series), but the depth and character development of the first book is practically unmatched in the remainder of the series.

Something Blue by Emily Giffin
I had so been looking forward to reading Something Borrowed that I almost didn't bother reading the follow-up Something Blue; I am so glad I did!  While Something Borrowed had a lot of suspense and emotion, Something Blue was a journey.  Full of emotion and personal development/growth, Darcy's story was so much more than I could have hoped for from this sequel.

The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
I honestly tried picking one of the three books of the series, but I just couldn't!  Of the three books I have read, all were witty and well planned; I can normally figure out what is happening in a mystery/detective novel, but these books all surprised me.  Definitely more on the "Chick Lit" side of mystery novels, but easy to read and so hilarious!

The New How to Study Your Bible Book and Workbook by Kay Arthur (et al)
This set was on my Christmas List for a reason!  I love Kay Arthur's method of Inductive Bible Study, and the new book and workbook help explain the principles in more detail.  I found book to be very helpful in explaining her methodology further and how to use this in my own study.  The workbook had printed Bible passages from different genres (epistle, prophecy, poetry, narrative, etc) and instructions to assist the reader in learning how to do this kind of study.  This is a must read for anyone looking to dig deeper in studying the Bible.

Surprising Insights from the Unchurched by Thom Rainer
This was an assigned book for one of my classes, but it gave so much insight (ha ha) to what people are looking for from the church.  Most churches are using "seeker sensitive" tactics to draw in outsiders and new members, but most "unchurched" people came to church due to a relationship they had with a member (their friend, their sibling, their child, their parent, etc).  They stayed because the people (and especially the pastor) were friendly and welcoming.  Many of them appreciated and stayed due to the strong message and stance the pastor and church took on sin and moral issues.  This book is such an eye-opener for anyone in ministry or involved in a church.

The Green Letters by Miles Stanford
Each chapter is short (2-5 pages) but very full of ideas, Scripture, and thoughts from Christian greats.  It took me a few chapters to understand where the author was coming from, but he moves so slowly and so methodically so that the reader must understand and accept each principle into his or her own life before moving forward.  Every principle builds on the last, making this a great book to work through in a small group or in personal study.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
This book lays out the disciplines that every Christian should apply to their own lives.  What I loved about it was that it not only listed and disciplines and explained their necessity, it gave many ways in which the readers could apply those disciplines to their lives.  Whitney begins with the two most important disciplines (Bible Reading and Prayer) in order to build a strong foundation to begin putting the remaining disciplines into practice.  So great for personal growth, an accountability team, or small groups.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Dec 30-Jan 5)

I can't believe how much has happened in the last week!  With our relaxing trip to NC in the middle of the week, it feels more like two weeks ;)

1.  Cleaning, Cleaning, and more Cleaning! -- The kitchen still needs some work
2.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!) -- Just realized I never did my blog!  Oops...

3.  Safe Trip and Fun Time in NC
4.  Relax and Enjoy Christmas w/ Friends and Family
5.  Start thinking through Goals for 2013 ;)

The next two weeks are my "down" weeks before classes begin and our trip to FL.  I am hoping to be setting up my new laptop this week and relaxing for my birthday next week, but there are still some things around the apartment and for back-to-school that need to be done!

1.  Order textbooks!
2.  Inform Professors about FL Trip (during 1st week of school)

3.  Update Menu Plan (and blog!)
4.  Finish cleaning the kitchen
5.  Laundry!

6.  Get back to exercising normally (burn off those Christmas goodies!)
7.  Set up Doctor, Dentist, and Hair appts
8.  Relax and Enjoy New Years'

Saturday, December 29, 2012

De and Doug's Den: The Books of 2012

This year, I set a goal to read 100 books including 50 I had never read before.  While I ended a little short of my goal (90 books, 41 new books), I still can't believe how much reading I was able to do this year!!! 

This post is just a summarized list of what I read this year ;)

The Alchemyst Series (books 1-5)
Avalon High
Harry Potter Series (7 books)
Heroes of Olympus Series (3 books)
The Hobbit
Hunger Games Trilogy (3 books)
The Kane Chronicles (books 1-2)
Percy Jackson Series (5 books)

Fiction/Chick Lit
Ashley Stockingdale Series (3 books)
The Austen Series (6 books)
Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives
Shopaholic Series (books 1-5)
Sleeping Beauty Proposal
Something Blue
Something Borrowed

Heather Wells Series (3 books)
Stephanie Plum Series (books 1-3)
Sue Grafton Series (books A-B)
The Westing Game
Women's Murder Club Series (books 1-3)

Religion/Biblical Study
Encountering John from the EBS series
Genesis from the NIVAC series
Genesis in Time and Space
The Gospel Accoridng to John from the PNTC series
How to Read Genesis
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
The New How to Study Your Bible Book
The New How to Study Your Bible Workbook

Church Administration
Innovate Church
Perspectives on Church Government, 5 Views
Preventing Sexual Abuse in Congregations
The Reformers and Their Stepchildren
Surprising Insights from the Unchurched

7 Practices of Effective Ministry
And He Dwelt Among Us
The Green Letters:  Principles of Spiritual Growth
Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders
The Principle of Position:  Foundations of Spiritual Growth
Radical:  Taking Back your Faith form the American Dream
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

I think the thing that surprised me most about this list is the range/diversity of books that I read this year.  Obviously, I had to read a lot for school (20 books from this list), but I feel that I gained a lot from the books that I read this year.  After all, that is the point of reading!

For 2013, I want to continue reading a variety of books and new (to me) books, and I hope I've inspired some of you to join me in reading next year!!!  Whether it's 1 book each season, 1 book each month, or 1 book each week, START READING! ;)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Determination: 12 in 2012

I cannot believe that 2013 is right around the corner!  This time of year is always so exciting for me; I love the joy and merriment that comes with Christmas and New Years, as well as getting to celebrate my birthday!  Even more so, I love that feeling of starting fresh, of wiping the slate clean and moving forward, full of opportunities and motivation ;)

In my journey to slow down and enjoy life, I decided to take my New Years' Resolutions and spread them out over the year in order to accomplish one goal per month.  This worked very well for this last year; I was able to focus and accomplish much more this year than I thought I would!!!

-- Have an Organized Apartment/Spring Cleaning (updated here)
-- Update Photos/Scrapbook (updated here)
-- Make Memories (we made so many memories, including a trip to NC and to Williamsburg, and having friends from FL visit)
-- Spring Cleaning (in April here and here)
-- Update Apartment (Apartment-versary) (in June)
-- Clothing Control (updated here and here)
-- Holiday Prep (updated for Halloween here and Thanksgiving here)
-- Health Goals (affected by my appendix, but updated here and here)
-- Holiday Baking (listed here)

In addition, I had wanted to cook new recipes this year and read 100 books.  I will be posting about the books I read this year in a few days, but I really enjoyed how much cooking I was able to do this year, especially this spring and summer!

Most of all, I think I learned a lot this year.  I learned how to deal with being sick while Doug is also sick.  I've learned to adapt and be flexible when things change or emergencies happen.  I've learned to care more about the people in my life than the things (or the cleanliness/organization of those things).  I've learned that it's okay to not have everything together; that I can take a break, regroup, and try again.  I've learned how to make the most of my time and energy.  Most of all, I hope I have learned how to take all these lessons and move forward to grow even more next year ;)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (12/23-29)

Well, it took a few days and almost all my energy, but I finally managed to get all my Christmas Baking done and shipped!

1.  Lots and Lots of Baking
2.  Mail out Christmas Baskets to PA and FL (by 12/18)
3.  Laundry!

4.  Eat real food (and not Basket leftovers!) -- We ate real food, but more takeout than I wanted ;)
5.  Spend time with friends

Due to some camera problems, I can't share as much as I wanted, but I'm am looking forward to a break this week and some relaxation in NC!!!

1.  Cleaning, Cleaning, and more Cleaning!
2.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)

3.  Safe Trip and Fun Time in NC
4.  Relax and Enjoy Christmas w/ Friends and Family
5.  Start thinking through Goals for 2013 ;)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Dec 16-22)

Wow!  This week has just flown by, but it has been really good to finally begin Christmas Break!

1.  Greek Review and Final Exam
2.  Take John Exam

3.  Christmas Basket Cooking
4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Decorate for Christmas!

6.  Go see the Hobbit this weekend ;)
7.  Watch Christmas movies
8.  Relax a bit!!!

This past week is one of the rare occasions where I accomplish everything on my list, though I did not do as much baking as I would have liked.  I'm still doing the first batches of everything (which normally ends up being extra or for Doug and I, not for baskets), but this week I will be working like crazy to finish up baskets to mail out to family and friends and distribute before we leave for NC for Christmas!


1.  Lots and Lots of Baking
2.  Mail out Christmas Baskets to PA and FL (by 12/18)
3.  Laundry!

4.  Eat real food (and not Basket leftovers!)
5.  Spend time with friends

It's a short list this week, but I will be spending almost all day Monday baking, as well as most of Thursday and Friday.  With no classes or homework, I should still be able to get some rest and enjoy my time off!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

Finals are officially over!!!

(Except for that online one I am taking today, but still.)

If you think this means I can go back to cooking "regular" meals instead of fast and easy meals, you would be wrong!  Since I am packaging and mailing some of the Christmas Baskets, I will be working hard over the next week to get everything made, packed, and shipped to arrive by Christmas.  Since I will be doing a lot of baking, I will still be trying to plan for quick and easy meals through Christmas!

On the plus side, I planned too many meals for Finals Week (we had a lot of leftovers), so I have some meals still ready to go ;)

Thursday:  Take Out -- Celebrate end of Finals!
Friday:  Brunch for Lunch (before seeing The Hobbit)
Saturday:  Soup and Sandwiches
Sunday:  Broiled Salmon w/ Pasta
Monday:  Grilled Chicken w/ Pasta
Tuesday:  Pizza
               Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
Wednesday:  Taco Pockets
                     Soup and Sandwiches
Thursday:  Chicken Fajitas w/ Rice
Friday:  Hamburger Helper
Saturday:  Take Out!
Sunday:  Tuna Melts
Monday-Wednesday:  In NC with family!
Thursday:  Take Out during the drive home
Friday:  Pizza

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Dec 9-15)

This week has been absolutely crazy, but it's over now!  Needless to say, I feel pretty good about the week.

1.  Greek Review/Final Prep -- Saving that for closer to the Exam
2.  Submit John Paper (due 12/9)
3.  Finish John class early!!! -- Just the exam left to take...tomorrow!

4.  Christmas Basket Baking Shopping
5.  Laundry, Laundry, Laundry! -- still working on it

6.  Make time to Exercise
7.  Get to bed early!

This week is Finals Week, but now that my paper is complete, things will be a lot easier!

1.  Greek Review and Final Exam
2.  Take John Exam

3.  Christmas Basket Cooking
4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Decorate for Christmas!

6.  Go see the Hobbit this weekend ;)
7.  Watch Christmas movies
8.  Relax a bit!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Delicious: Christmas Baskets 2012

I am SO excited to begin baking for Christmas!!!

Although, mainly I'm just excited for an excuse to "taste" lots of yummy treats and use my KitchenAid Mixer several times a week.

Anyways!!!  Since I had this week off from grocery shopping (for "real" food), I was able to go and focus on what I needed for the Christmas Baskets.  Last year I made a lot of recipes for Christmas Baskets (including Hot Chocolate Mix, cookies, my Gram's famous fudge, and candy), but this year, I wanted to focus on making a few really great recipes and perfecting them.

So, here's what I'm making this year!!!

Apple Oatmeal Cookies.  I made these last year for our baskets, and they were a big hit!  Not only do they taste Christmasy (apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon), but they are diabetic-friendly, easy to make, and the whole house smells yummy ;)

Gram's Famous Fudge.  This is the ultimate Christmas sweet for my mom's side of the family.  It's just not Christmas without Grandma Fudge, and since she rarely makes fudge anymore (maybe one tray a year), it is such a treat to have her fudge pot, her recipe, and her blessing to work hard to recreate her magic ;)  While the recipe is a family secret, I try to share the finished product with as many people as possible.

Sugar Cookies w/ Royal Icing.  This is brand new to me.  Even though I consider myself a cookie expert (after years of helping my dad bake 100+ dozen cookies each Christmas), I have rarely made sugar cookies.  I got a highly recommended recipe for cookies that shouldn't lose their shape, and very detailed instructions and recipe for Royal Icing.  I decided to do snowflakes and Christmas trees since those are pretty simple to decorate (mostly one color with small decorations/details), so they shouldn't be too difficult, right?

Chocolate Slabs Two Ways.  When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I was really excited.  Not only are these chocolate slabs easy to make, they are easily customized for whatever flavors you like!  I am planning on making White Chocolate Peppermint Slabs and German Chocolate Cake Slabs (Semi-Sweet Chocolate with Coconut and Walnuts).  This seem quick, easy, and classy to me; I hope everyone else thinks so too!

Puppy Chow.  I really liked the Chocolate Covered Pretzels I made last year, but I wanted something that would a bit easier to make.  Puppy Chow was the obvious choice.  It is crunchy, chocolately, sweet, and only takes 3-4 minutes to make.  While there are dozens of recipes online, I had tons of friends who made this on a regular basis in college, so I memorized a basic recipe from them ;)

Even though I have a Paper to finish and two finals looming, making these treats is a great way to take a study break and celebrate Christmas a little bit every day!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (12/2-8)

I think I did pretty well last week with my goals:

1.  Greek -- 2 quizzes, 2 assignments
2.  John Paper Research

3.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
4.  Start New Cleaning Schedule -- Doing what we can ;)
5.  Laundry!

6.  Keep Exercising!
7.  Schedule a Hair Appt -- Hopefully calling tomorrow!
8.  Have an Spa-at-Home Day ;)

This week will be really interesting and fun though!  Classes end Wednesday, which begins Finals Week; I am also beginning my Christmas Basket Baking this week.  Doug and I are also on the verge of sickness, and I am really hoping that we can get extra rest (and extra vitamins!) to stay healthy for just one more week!

1.  Greek Review/Final Prep
2.  Submit John Paper (due 12/9)
3.  Finish John class early!!!

4.  Christmas Basket Baking Shopping
5.  Laundry, Laundry, Laundry!

6.  Make time to exercise
7.  Get to bed early!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Document: November


Is it just me, or did the end of the year just sneak up on all of us?  Some days I feel like Christmas and New Years are right around the corner, and other days I feel like it's March or April!  Needless to say, November was short and super busy!

12 in 2012.
Health and Fitness Goals!  I am regularly doing yoga again (with no soreness/pain post-surgery) and trying to get in some cardio by walking a few times a week.  With the cold weather really hitting us now, I have been utilizing workout videos.  Eating healthy can be hard during the holiday season, but Doug and I are working hard to stay home and eat meals instead of eating out.  We are even making sure to keep healthy snacks on hand, like pistachios, baby carrots, string cheese, yogurt, and fruit.  For me, making sure I eat a decent breakfast and an afternoon snack has helped keep me full before social gatherings (or to keep me from late night snacking).

I definitely hit a wall this month with reading.  I have finished 86 books (37 new books), meaning I only read three books this month (two new).  Midterms followed by Thanksgiving made life pretty busy, so I often would be up late working on schoolwork when I would normally be reading!  With two weeks left until the end of classes (though I am trying to finish in the next 10 days), I should be able to get in more reading, though the goal of 100 books would be very challenging right now, especially reading all new books to hit my goal of 50 new books this year.  Nevertheless, I am looking forward to some down-time to read!

Thanksgiving was great!  I didn't have the time I wanted to post recipes/pictures while baking, but I did manage to snag a few pre-dinner pics ;)

Lots of rolls, my mom's Vegetable Stuffing, and my mom!


Lots of yummy sides!
I didn't get any pics of the Mini Cherry Pies I made, but it was so great to have my family here (to eat and to help cook!) for Thanksgiving.

Though papers and Finals have both Doug and I pretty busy, I am so looking forward to beginning my Christmas baking -- my 12 in 2012 goal for December!  Last year, I made quite a few recipes for my Christmas Baskets; this year, I decided to go with a few simple recipes that (most) everyone loves ;)  I can't wait to share what I've been planning!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Deft (adj):  clever, efficient, nimble, proficient

One of the lessons I have learned in the last year (especially in the last six months) is the difference been multitasking and multiplying.

When a person multitasks, their focus is split between several things for a period of time, sometimes an extended period of time.  One example:  talking to someone on the phone (50% of your focus) and cooking dinner (50 % of your focus).  Multitasking may seem effective since you are doing more things at the same time, but it is actually detrimental to accomplishing anything.  When I put 50% focus or effort into something I am doing, it doesn't take me twice as long, but actually three or four times as long because my brain gets tired so much faster form handling too many things at once.

Math aside, my seven years in college and grad school is proof of this phenomenon.  When I sat alone working on a paper (or homework), I not only completed the work more quickly, but I produced better quality work.  When I had people around, or when I was trying to cook or clean while working, it took much longer and I produced poor work.

However, there is a concept of putting intentional effort into something to accomplish more at one time.  while many people try to do this through multitasking, this concept is an entirely separate idea.  I call it multiplying.  Multiplying is when you put the same amount of effort into a project, but (through planning or being intentional) you produce more than usual.

When I think about this principle, I remember having to make a bulletin board project my Junior year of college.  I was stamping construction paper letters to make a Bible verse in the school's library.  I had been smart enough to add up how many of each letter I needed (instead of stamping word by word, but after an hour, I was only halfway done.  The librarian came over and showed me a trick to go fast.  While you were not allowed to place more than one page into the machine, she told me to fold the paper in half while stamping.  Each stamp produced two letters instead of one.  This is multiplying.

Here's another example:  I wanted to make Hamburger Helper for lunch.  Instead of browning one pound of ground beef (which takes 15-20 min), I decided to cook the five pounds I had (which took about 35-40 min).  While it was cooking, I prepped containers to freeze the extra meat for meals later this week.  For an extra 20 minutes, I produced four extra meals.

There is such a big difference between the two, but it takes planning, thought, and discipline to choose to focus when necessary (quit multitasking) and to think about multiplying to be effective and efficient.  For me, this meant moving my work area when necessary, changing around my schedule several times, prioritizing, streamlining, and even asking for help.  But what I have gained is freedom:  freedom to do what I want with my time, freedom to spend more time with my family/friends than on tasks, and freedom to relax and take care of myself instead of chasing a To Do List.

While I have so much to learn and need much more discipline in this area, knowing the difference and striving for change is a great first step.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

After chowing down on leftover turkey and sides this week, it's time to get back to eating "real" food again!

Since classes are ending soon, I decided to try shopping and planning for two weeks to save me the extra trip to the store.  I planned a lot of quick and simple meals, especially those which either of us can make ;)

Monday (11/26) -- Pork Stir Fry w/ Rice
Tuesday -- Soup w/ Sandwiches
                  Hamburger Helper
Wednesday -- Calamari and Orange Spinach Salad
                       Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
Thursday -- Meaty Spinach Spaghetti
Friday -- Frozen Pizza
Saturday -- Take Out/Leftovers
Sunday -- Taco Pockets
Monday (12/3) -- Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Tuesday -- Soup w/ Sandwiches
                  Breakfast for Dinner Night
Wednesday -- Hamburger Helper
                       Frozen Pizza
Thursday -- Spinach and Sausage Alfredo Pasta
Friday -- Buffalo Chicken Pockets
Saturday -- Take Out/Leftovers
Sunday -- Soup w/ Sandwiches
Monday (12/10) -- Sloppy Joes

Design: Weekly Goals (11/25-12/1)

Taking the week off for Thanksgiving Break was much needed!  I did work hard to be ready for classes ending over the next two weeks, but I spent a lot of time with friends and family, and some down time too!

1.  Greek -- 2 quizzes, 2 assignments
2.  John Paper Research

3.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
4.  Start New Cleaning Schedule
5.  Laundry!

6.  Keep Exercising!
7.  Schedule a Hair Appt
8.  Have an Spa-at-Home Day ;)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (11/11-17)

Here are last week's results:

1.  Three Greek Quizzes and Two Assignments
2.  Reading, ~150 pages -- I still have a bit of reading to do today
3.  Book Critique Paper (due 11/13) -- finishing up this paper today, 2 days early!

4.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Prep Thanksgiving Menu and buy a Turkey!

6.  Celebrate one year of blogging (11/9)
7.  Maintain healthy eating/exercising -- for the most part ;)

While I did a pretty good job of balancing this week (getting rest, having fun, accomplishing schoolwork), next week looks like a marathon!  Needless to say, I will be glad to have a week off from [residential] classes the following week!!!

1.  Greek:  Three Quizzes, Two Assignments
2.  Reading:  ~250 pgs
3.  John:  Four Lectures, Two Essays (400 words each) w/ Replies, Exam

4.  Update Menu Plan
5.  Prep for Thanksgiving (and blog!)
6.  Prep for Guests (my parents!)

7.  Healthy Eating/Exercise
8.  Get Sleep!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Decision, Year 2

A year ago I began a journey through this blog of appreciating the little things and living a decelerated life in order to find more gratitude and joy.

A year later, so many things have happened that have compromised my goals.  Doug and I have lost two grandparents and a step-grandparent.  A giant storm knocked out our power for a week, requiring us to re-stock our fridge and freezer and find shelter/food for a week.  My position was eliminated, requiring us to find another way to pay for my last year of school.  I had my appendix removed.  Dozens of personal issues and family issues have happened, including having two sets of parents move further away and a new baby nephew being born!

Apparently God knew what He was doing when He laid these goals on my heart, for without His provision and this attitude of living in the slow lane and finding joy in all things, I honestly don't know if I could have handled all that happened in the last year.

So, here I am, a year older and maybe wiser, but definitely blessed and full of gratitude to my family, friends, and especially my husband for being patient and understanding as I have tried (and sometimes failed) to slow down my life.

And thank all of you for following me through the crazy back-roads of my life!  While I do not know what the next year holds, I do know a few things.  First, I know that I have the ability to live a decelerated life and enjoy the present.  Second, I know that I will not continue my journey alone; I have friends, family, and a Lord who will be by my side.  Finally, I know that I will keep sharing my life with all of you, chronicling my path as I continue to learn to live with more gratitude, more joy, and more life!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

With only 10 days until my Thanksgiving Dinner, I have a lot of Meal Planning to do!!!

I decided to shop and plan through the Thanksgiving Meal to make the prep work easier for me ;)

Wednesday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Potatoes and Cheddar Broccoli
                       Pot Roast w/ Pearl Onions and Herbed Pasta
Thursday -- Chicken Quesadillas w/ Rice and Corn
Friday -- Pork Stir Fry w/ Rice
Saturday -- Take Out!
Sunday -- Frozen Pizza
Monday -- Leftovers/Brunch
Tuesday -- Meaty Spaghetti w/ Spinach
                  Pork Fajitas w/ Rice
Wednesday -- Frozen Pizza
Thursday -- Tuna Helper w/ Broccoli
Friday -- Take Out
Saturday -- Meatloaf w/ Cheddar Broccoli Pasta

While this looks like a good plan on paper (considering exams, papers, and our pantry), I am really hoping we can stick to it.  We are trying to empty the fridge so we'll have lots of room for Thanksgiving food and (more importantly) a turkey to thaw next week!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Nov 4-10)

This week is all about school (surprise, surprise) and prepping for Thanksgiving!!!  I only have two weeks until my parents will be here for Turkey Day, so I need to nail down a menu and get some early shopping done.

1.  Three Greek Quizzes and Two Assignments
2.  Reading, ~150 pages
3.  Book Critique Paper (due 11/11)

4.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Prep Thanksgiving Menu and buy a Turkey!

6.  Celebrate one year of blogging (11/9)
7.  Maintain healthy eating/exercising

While it looks like there isn't that much to do, I know that my week will be super full!  This is the week that I need to be disciplined and focused; after this week, schoolwork and the holidays get much easier ;)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Oct 28-Nov 3)

This week has been extra busy for both of us!  I had a lot of schoolwork to make up after spending Wednesday cooking and prepping for the Halloween Party, and Doug has had extra things going on at work since the NY office is still recovering from Frankenstorm/Hurricane Sandy this week.

1.  Two Greek Quizzes
2.  Reading, 200+ pages
3.  Essays, 400 words each, and replies -- working on those tomorrow
4.  John Exam

5.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!) -- due to the storm, Doug made a side trip over the weekend for extra food, so no shopping and a random menu for the week
6.  Prep for Halloween Party!!!
7.  Cleaning and Laundry

8.  Enjoy time with friends (and not get bogged down hosting!)
9.  Quality Time with Doug

Today it finally hit me that...
-- Thanksgiving (for us)/Thanksgiving Break is in TWO weeks
-- Christmas Baking/Shopping begins in FOUR weeks
-- Classes end in just under SIX weeks
-- Christmas is in SEVEN and a HALF weeks
-- 2013 begins in just over EIGHT weeks


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Document: October

Oh my goodness, it is November!

Because of surgery recovery, I feel like I missed half of October!  I guess being on pain meds can do that to you ;)

Anyways, October was very busy at school and at home; even though I was trying to keep it easy, i feel like I have been able to "catch up" to "normal" life and prepare for a fun and festive holiday season.  Here's how my life looks after October's accomplishments!!!

12 in 2012.  We had a great time celebrating Halloween!  It is always good to have friends over, play some Mafia!, and just catch up on each other's lives.  Plus, I heard the food was pretty good ;)

Cupcakes, Brownies, Gobs, Pinwheels, Fruit, and Chips!

Lucy Van Pelt and her Psychiatrist Booth


Doug and I also did a little Christmas prep (our "lists" were due to my family on Halloween, so we had some time to think about the holidays) and decided on a day/menu for Thanksgiving.  I think we did a great job prepping for the season.

Reading.  I totally rocked on reading this month!  I have finished 83 books (35 new books), meaning I read 17 books in October. WOW.  I guess recovery has its perks!  I'm not sure if I will be able to finish 100 books by the end of the year, but I am a lot closer than I thought I would be ;)

Cooking.  I finally regained control in the kitchen, but I haven't branched out too much with dinners yet ;)  For Halloween, I did make Pumpkin Spice Gobs with a special Vanilla Icing, Pumpkin Cupcakes, Cheerwine Brownies, and some Easy Turkey and Spinach Pinwheels (plus some cheesy salsa and fruit dip). school has been keeping me pretty busy, but I should be able to post some recipes in time for Thanksgiving!

Health/Fitness.  I am back to doing yoga and "normal" tasks, but I am definitely looking to increase my activity level over these winter months.  Getting outside will be difficult, so I am banking on making good use of my time at home.  Next month's goals are all about fitness and healthy living, so you can read about my ideas/decisions then!!!

On top of finding ways to stay healthy over the winter, I will be making some new health goals and fitness goals for next year.  My time at Curves has been great, but their hours and my school schedule have been colliding too much to be able to keep going there.  While I really wish I could stay there and continue to use their incredible resources, I know that I can find something that works for my life and my schedule ;)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Oct 28-Nov 3)

It's Halloween Week!!!  On top of a good amount of schoolwork, I get a chance to prep and host our annual Halloween party, which will be such a great break for us to relax with friends ;)

1.  Two Greek Quizzes
2.  Reading, 200+ pages
3.  Essays, 400 words each, and replies
4.  John Exam

5.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
6.  Prep for Halloween Party!!!
7.  Cleaning and Laundry

8.  Enjoy time with friends (and not get bogged down hosting!)
9.  Quality Time with Doug

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Oct 21-27)

After a super busy week, so much has been accomplished!  Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, we decided to hold off on shopping (to escape the crazies hoarding bread and bottled water).

1.  Greek:  Two Quizzes, One Exam (10/24)
2.  John:  Two presentations, ~ 225 pgs of reading
3.  Essay, 400 words and replies

4.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and Blog!)
5.  Shopping/Cleaning/Prep for Halloween Party -- Ready to go Monday
6.  Laundry!  Laundry! -- still working on it

7.  Spend time walking/doing yoga daily to regain strength/muscle
8.  Regain my normal schedule -- normal schedule just won't cut it anymore! LoL
9.  Quality Time with Doug!

Needless to say, I was able to take care of myself and my the detriment of my living room!  Monday is our official cleaning day at home, and Tuesday is my official baking day!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

Another week of menu planning, including setting up the menu for our Halloween Party!!!

Thursday -- Grilled Italian Chicken and Rice
Friday -- Burgers and Chips
Saturday -- Take Out
Sunday -- Pork Stir-Fry w/ Rice
Monday -- Brats w/ Peppers and Pasta
Tuesday -- Frozen Pizza
                  Beef Fajitas w/ Rice
Wednesday -- Leftovers

I am also planning a few stellar Halloween Themed snacks for our party like Goblin Dip, Sliced Skeleton, and Bloody Vampire Squares!!!  I am so excited to make and share these treats ;)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Oct 21-27)

As the first week in a new online class, this week will be super busy as is.  Add in Greek make-up work, a Greek Exam, and prepping for a Halloween party (next week), and this week is completely PACKED!!!

Since it is so full, I really need to be intentional about spending time with Doug, taking time to rest, and finding some time to exercise ;)

1.  Greek:  Two Quizzes, One Exam (10/24)
2.  John:  Two presentations, ~ 225 pgs of reading
3.  Essay, 400 words and replies

4.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and Blog!)
5.  Shopping/Cleaning/Prep for Halloween Party
6.  Laundry!  Laundry!

7.  Spend time walking/doing yoga daily to regain strength/muscle
8.  Regain my normal schedule
9.  Quality Time with Doug!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Oct 14-20)

This week has been pretty exciting because...

1.  I have only had ONE class to worry about
2.  I met with my surgeon and am doing well with recovery
3.  I made Pumpkin Cupcakes!!!
and 4.  I got to hang out with a lot of my friends this week ;)

1.  Greek Quizzes:  Three make-up, two regular quizzes -- I still have two to take on Monday!
2.  Greek Worksheets:  Two make-up, one regular, one review -- working on that today ;)
3.  Prep for new class on John (begins Oct 22)

4.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Laundry! Laundry! Laundry! -- need dishes done so I can do laundry!

6.  Start doing yoga regularly again -- depends on day-to-day pain
7.  Take time to rest/relax every day; I am still recovering!
8.  Fall baking!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

This week I am finally able to go shopping (normally) and plan proper meals for us since my Doctor cleared me to do a bit more!  Huzzah!

Wednesday -- Meatloaf w/ Roasted Potatoes
Thursday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Fiesta Rice and Corn
Friday -- Frozen Pizza
Saturday -- Burgers and Fries
Sunday -- Salmon w/ Angel Hair Herbed Pasta
Monday -- Pork Stir Fry w/ Rice
Tuesday -- Shredded Beef Fajitas
Wednesday -- Sausage and Spinach Alfredo

Doug is still helping me with some of the household chores (like laundry and cooking), but I will be able to do much more cooking this week, and I am hoping to begin my Fall Baking with some pumpkin cupcakes and/or gobs!!!

Plus, we have a few extra apples around, so I will have to come up with something fun to make with those ;) Any ideas?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Oct 14-20)

With my online class complete and a week off from online classes, I should be able to catch up on Greek this week!  Luckily, we have two-three days of review scheduled for Greek before our second Exam, which should give me the extra time I need to catch up from missing five classes.

I am also feeling much better and and hoping to start catching up on housework a bit this week!

1.  Greek Quizzes:  Three make-up, two regular quizzes
2.  Greek Worksheets:  Two make-up, one regular, one review
3.  Prep for new class on John (begins Oct 22)

4.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Laundry! Laundry! Laundry!

6.  Start doing yoga regularly again
7.  Take time to rest/relax every day; I am still recovering!
8.  Fall baking!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Oct 7-13)

Such a crazy week!  With in-laws visiting for my nephew's birth, I didn't have as much time as I thought I would; on top of that, both cars ended up in the shop this week!!!  All in all, I did as much as I could.

1.  Greek Quizzes:  two make-up quizzes, two regular quizzes -- I am way behind on Greek!
2.  Essay, 400 words and replies (due Oct 14) -- replies to do tomorrow
3.  Reading and Report (due Oct 14)

4.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Clothing Sorted/Laundry

6.  Be more active by walking and stretching
7.  Begin weaning myself off pain meds (slowly!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meals

Yea!  We can finally get back to scheduling normal meals!!!  Although my husband is a great cook and did an AMAZING job taking care of us with the resources in the house (including making burgers and meatloaf for the freezer), it is nice to be able to begin planning and helping him a bit more with this.

Although my in-laws were visiting this week (due to my new baby nephew's birth -- Joey was 8 lb, 10 oz, and 20.5 inches long!  Born Oct 4 in the later afternoon), we have limited the take-out a bit and will be resuming a normal schedule now ;)

Wednesday -- Steaks w/ Rice and Broccoli
Thursday -- Baked Pork w/ Fettuccine Alfredo and Spinach
Friday -- Fall Break!!! Eating Out!
Saturday -- Burgers and Fries
Sunday -- Broiled Cod w/ Herbed Pasta
Monday -- Meatloaf w/ Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli
Tuesday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Fiesta Rice and Corn

A lot of these are "simple" meals that we both can handle, even if I am having a rough day physically.  When we can make quick and easy food at home in the same time/effort as take-out, it makes it much easier!  This saves money and guarantees better nutrition, for the most part ;)

I am so glad I held off switching to shopping for two weeks at a time, or my husband would have been stuck with a giant list and no help!  With holidays coming up, now is not the time to change a working system; perhaps early next year ;)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Oct 7-13)

Here's to getting back to normal!  While I am still taking pain meds (which causes some dizziness and sleepiness), I am trying to get back to normal this week while still taking it slow and easy.

My Spiritual Formation class ends on Friday, so that means I have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time; thankfully, Fall Break begins on Thursday, giving me a little break from Greek ;)

1.  Greek Quizzes:  two make-up quizzes, two regular quizzes
2.  Essay, 400 words and replies (due Oct 12)
3.  Reading and Report (due Oct 12)

4.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Clothing Sorted/Laundry

6.  Be more active by walking and stretching
7.  Begin weaning myself off pain meds (slowly!)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Document: September

Today begins October, meaning lots of pumpkin flavors, fall breezes, leaves changing, and apple cider!  But first, we had to push through September!

September was a mess, to say the least.  Not only did school crank up, but sickness rocked our house, well mostly just me!  Spider bites, nausea, and an appendectomy made it a rough month for me.  Despite the craziness and busyness, September was still a pretty good month with a lot of accomplishments.

12 in 2012.  Out of all the accomplishments, the one big thing I was unable to do was try the 30 by 30 program.  Once I finally picked out the clothes, I never had a chance to take pictures, let alone try using them in my wardrobe.

Reading.  I have completed 66 (and a half) books so far this year, which means I read an impressive 10 books this month!  Tomorrow Mark of Athena comes out, which will kick off this month's reading pretty quickly!  While I have 34 books left to read this year to hit my goal (which seems a bit out of reach), I am excited to have made such progress this year.

Cooking.  In the midst of all the school and sickness, I was able to try making some new things, including a few versions of Mac and Cheese.  This month should be full of baked goods, since we love apple and pumpkin flavors!!!

Health/Fitness.  With being sick and busy, I was only really able to keep up with my daily stretching/yoga without getting to spend a lot of time at the gym or working out at home.  As I recover from surgery, I should be able to get back to my normal yoga routine soon and add in some walking until I can begin using machines/weights.

The goal for October is to begin preparing for the holidays -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas -- especially by setting up plans to see family and friends and begin baking lots of yummy snacks!!!  School gets a bit of a break this month; one class ends in two weeks (gasp!) and I get a week-long break before beginning a new class.  Greek continues through the month with another exam looming at the end of the month.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Denial, aka How I Lost my Appendix

Denial (noun):  refusal of belief in, dissent

So, I have already informed you all of the sickness that overtook me for a few days.  This is the story of how that sickness resulted in surgery and the removal of my appendix.

Denial 1:  I am not sick; I'm fine.
After 86 hours of sickness, I woke up around 7 AM with stabbing pain on the ride side of my lower stomach/abdomen area.  I honestly decided not to tell Doug until after his class (which ran from 9 until 10:30 AM) since I assumed that it was some kind of muscle cramp from being sick.  Well, he figured out pretty quickly on his own that I was in pain and told me that it was time to go to the doctor's office.  After some crying and complaining, I convinced Doug to call my parents first and get their opinion.  I was arguing to give me 6 hours to feel better before going.  My parents took Doug's side, and we were out the door by 8:15 AM.

Denial 2:  It's just a virus; there's nothing that can be done.
We entered an empty ER (which never happens, so this was definitely God clearing the way), and I was taken back to a small room fairly quickly.  Several samples were taken for testing, and the nurses assured me that it was probably a virus that just needed to work through my system, although no one would let me drink or eat anything "in case you need surgery." (That should have been hint #1.)  Around 9:30 AM I saw the doctor (who was very nice) who talked with me and sent me for a CT scan "just in case" this wasn't a virus.  By 10 AM, I was taking my CT scan, and by 10:30 I was back in my room after being told by several nurses that my samples looked okay.  Doug had been keeping my parents in the loop; at this point they even thought I should be able to go home soon.

Denial 3:  This is not an emergency; this surgery can wait.
Around noon, my doctor came back and looked pretty surprised; "Your appendix is lit up like a Christmas tree, and your white blood cell count is high.  You are going to talk to the surgeon about how soon you need your appendix removed."  By 1 PM, I was being admitted to the hospital and waiting to meet with the surgeon.  My parents and Doug's mom were on their way.  My surgeon was really great; I described him to my parents as Cosby-like -- really good-natured and good-humored, but definitely still a good doctor.  He had looked over my CT scan and came to check out my stomach.  He noticed how much my muscles clenched when he pressed on sore spots; he informed me that I needed to go into surgery within the next 2 hours.  the conversation went something like this:
"Is there any way we can do it in the morning?"  "No, it needs to come out today."
"Can we wait for my parents to go here?" "Where are they coming from?" "PA." "No way."
"If I keep my stomach from clenching when you press on it, can we talk about waiting?" "No."
"Are you sure it won't heal on its own?"  "I'm sure it won't.  See you in surgery."

So immediately after this, they decide to send someone in to ask me lots of fun questions, like if I have a living will (apparently I said, "You can resuscitate the crap out of me") and if I'm an organ donor.  Nice, happy things like that.  By 3 PM, they wheeled me off to the OR to prep me for surgery.

Denial 4:  I'm going to be stuck in bed for days.
First, after talking to the anesthesiologist for about 90 seconds, he gave me some great anxiety medicine.  They let me go to the bathroom, and then wheeled me into the operating room.  Apparently I said something about it begin a spaceship because some people laughed at me and all of a sudden I was trying to open my eyes in a different room.  I kept asking about where Doug was and saying that my stomach hurt.  After about an hour in recovery, they moved me into my room.  I felt like I couldn't move for a few hours; my parents got there and were able to help Doug take care of me for awhile.

The good news is that after a few hours I was able to get up for short periods of time; by morning I was able to go back to a normal diet ("but take it easy") and was able to get up and walk around.  Twenty hours after my surgery, I was released from the hospital and on my way home!  I have been able to eat and get around for the most part on my own, and I was able to sleep normally through the night!

So, now I'm home, I'm resting, and I'm much better than I thought I would be!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Deferment (noun):  act of putting off or delaying, sanctioned postponement

Things that have become deferred this week:
Weekly Goals
Menu Plan, shopping, and blog post
and Eating (apparently)

For the last three days, I have been extremely sick; I won't go into details, but one of the major byproducts is that I can basically not eat anything until 1) I am completely better and 2) for 48-72 hours after I think I am better.

Food items I was specifically told to avoid:  dairy, fruit, caffeine, sugar, most vegetables (starchy veggies are okay), anything whole grain (which is almost all of our pasta, bread, crackers), anything greasy, buttery, or cooked in oil, meat (more than 2 oz), and dark liquids (including juice and dark Gatorade).  In addition, I am supposed to be drinking a quart of water every hour.

Needless to say, I have been consisting on crackers and water for two days, and I am a bit cranky!  On the good side, it is another week that we don't need to go grocery shopping; we have had plenty of leftovers and  unused meals since I haven't been able to eat anything!!!

As far as not setting goals, I have just been doing whatever I have absolutely HAD to do.  With two large Greek quizzes this week, my in-laws visiting, and friends coming in this weekend, the hubs has made me nap, read, and watch TV instead of cleaning, organizing, and driving myself crazy ;)

Even after trying to decelerate and enjoy life, I still get caught up in all the little things when I need to be more concerned about the big things -- the enduring and eternal things.  Like taking care of myself and my health.  Like continuing to build a strong relationship with Doug.  Like being able to spend time with friends and family instead of worrying about what they might think if I haven't vacuumed this week.

So, this week (and maybe for a few more weeks), I am putting some things on deferment.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Sept 16-22)

Crazy, busy week, and not very productive, but great!  Plus a Boy Meets World marathon makes any weekend great ;)

1.  Greek Exam (9/21)
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies -- working on these
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan 3 (due 9/22) -- I still have tomorrow

4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Catch up on laundry -- still more to do, but waiting for an empty sink...

6.  Consistent Workouts
7.  Stick to Spiritual Growth Plan
8.  30 by 30 picks posted! -- grr!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

What happens when we have some extra grocery money?  Stock the freezer/pantry!  we are planning some pretty simple meals for this week so we can 1) have time to handle the increased load from school and 2) we can stock our pantry and freezer with quick and easy meals/sides.

Today:  Baked Chicken and Fries

Wednesday -- Pork Fajitas w/ Rice (leftover)
Thursday -- Grilled Steaks w/ Mashed Potatoes and Cheesy Veggies
Friday -- Broiled Cod w/ Pasta and Chunky Sauce
Saturday -- Take out!
Sunday -- Burgers w/ Fries or Chips and Zucchini Cakes
Monday -- Baked Pork w/ Spinach and Alfredo Pasta
Tuesday -- Baked Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

In addition, we will be stocking our pantry with sides and snacks (like soup, rice, pasta, pudding, granola bars, and pretzels), our fridge with healthy snacks (like cottage cheese, fruit, and cubed cheese), and our freezer with veggies, meatloaf, extra pork, beef roast, and some frozen entrees.  Needless to say, we will be prepped and ready for some Fall flavor!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Sept 16-22)

This week puts more more than half done with one class and has me taking my first exam for another!

1.  Greek Exam (9/21)
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan 3 (due 9/22)

4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Catch up on laundry

6.  Consistent Workouts
7.  Stick to Spiritual Growth Plan
8.  30 by 30 picks posted!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Sept 9-15)

This week was the return of sickness, with both Doug and I fighting off sore throats and cold symptoms.  Overall, I think I still accomplished a lot this week!  Plus, I am now at the halfway point of my online class; only four more weeks until I get a little break ;)

1.  Two Greek Quizzes
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies -- replying today
3.  Book Critique/Report (and 150-175 pgs of reading to do for it, due 9/16) -- reading complete; now to write the report!!!

4.  Menu Planning/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Biweekly Filing/Paperwork -- All the papers are ready to be filed

6.  REST!!!  Fight off infection!
7.  Consistent Workouts (once I can workout again) -- mid-week workouts were good, but some muscle cramping in my leg kept me off of it yesterday and this morning
8.  30 x 30 choices blog post! -- Epic Fail.  Might try to send this one out to you guys today
9.  Follow Spiritual Growth Plan

I still have some projects to finish up today, but I feel like I was able to accomplish a lot this week, especially for school (midterm week in Spiritual Formation and test prep in Greek).  Things at home got a little behind, but we should be able to tackle those projects this coming week!

Friday, September 14, 2012


Department (noun):  area, office, territory, league

As I near graduation and the completion of my Masters degree, I keep getting two questions:  What are you going to do after you graduate?  and What is it that you study again?  A lot of people accept "I don't know" as an answer for where I'm going next; even more accept the fact that I am taking a much needed break (after being in school/classes for the last eight years, summers included).  No one, however, seems to understand why I would have ANY interest in the field of Ancient Near Eastern studies, especially for a Seminary student.

The line of questioning goes something like this:
"Really?  Like Old Testament studies?"
"Well, I study the Old Testament, but also the other peoples and cultures of that time, like Egyptian culture and Canaanite culture."
"Why would you want to learn about those?  They don't have anything to do with Jesus or the Bible"

Normally, I say something like, "They help us understand the Israelite culture better" or "It helps show historicity" or even "It's very interesting to see how it compares and contrasts with the Biblical accounts."  I never have time to prove the REAL answer to them:  We cannot truly understand the full meaning of the Bible without understanding these ancient cultures.  I honestly believe that some people must dig into these ancient cultures to provide the necessary tools for understanding what is actually happening in the Bible.

Let me give you my favorite example.

In Egyptian culture, the person is made up of several parts.  The ba is the center of thought and personality.  It is the soul of a person; this is the part that would continue on to the underworld and continue forever.  However, the most powerful part of a person was not the soul (ba), but the name (ren).  The ren of a person carried all of their experience, all of their memory, and all of their identity.  This was bound up in their "true" name; and whoever knew that name had the power to control or destroy that person.  You could only use a person's ren if they told you their name personally; it could not be gathered from a third party.  The magician's of Egypt sought out the rens of the gods of Egypt and any powerful Egyptians (like the pharaohs, other magicians, or military heroes).

Now, let's consider Moses, who was taught in the Egyptian courts as a member of Pharaoh's household.  When God sends Moses to Egypt to bring the people out from slavery, he asks God for a name to tell the people (Exodus 3:13).  God tells him "I AM who I AM."  Later (in Exodus 33), Moses asks God to reveal to him His glory.  God does this (Exodus 34) by saying His name, "YHWH, YHWH, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness..."  To an Egyptian, this would be a very intimate and powerful thing.  Moses knew God's name -- even more so, he had been in the presence of God in His full glory.

Now, let's go one step further.  John 1 narrates the Word becoming flesh among us (as Jesus Christ).  John 1:14 links this act of incarnation to Exodus 34 by stating that "we have seen the glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."  In John 1:18 John explains that no one has seen God, but Jesus is an explanation (NASB) or proclamation (NIV) of God and His glory.  When you understand that God's glory is tied to His name, you understand that the coming of Christ is more than the coming of a Messiah; it is even more than the astounding fact that God dwelt among mankind.  It is the fact that  Jesus is the incarnation of the glory and name and ren of God.  (I don't want to make it sound as if Jesus was a part of God, but rather the significance that God revealed Himself not only through giving a name but by making that name known and available to all.)  There is no third party (priests, leaders) needed; God has revealed His name in person!

That is a whole new perspective of on coming of Christ; it shows the concept that God made Himself (the most intimate, secretive, and powerful part of Himself) into a man to be among men and be known by them; that He sacrificed Himself entirely on the cross for our sins, and that He rose again from the dead (showing His preeminence over the Egyptian gods who were destroyed when their ren was destroyed).

Now this isn't perfectly exegetical, and I'm sure many people can find mistakes or problems with this summation, but the point is that cultural and background studies can have a huge impact on our understanding of Scripture.  We cannot simply personalize whatever we read in the Bible; we must understand that the Bible has a context.  While the truths of the Bible are universal and eternal, they are stated within a culture, a time, and (in many cases) specific circumstances.

Therefore, we need people to study Ancient Near Eastern cultures.  And Greek culture.  And Persian culture.  And every other culture!

And now when people ask me why on earth I study Ancient Near Eastern cultures, I can send them here to read and understand why I am so passionate about it ;)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

After having a LOT of leftover food/meals from last week, Doug and I decided to skip shopping this week!  That means lots of leftovers and and extra day of eating out, but in the end we'll be saving $20+ from this week.

Wednesday -- Leftovers
Thursday -- Tuna Melts
Friday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Broccoli Cheddar Pasta
Saturday -- Grab Takeout
Sunday -- Pork Fajitas w/ Rice
Monday -- Leftovers/Takeout
Tuesday -- Grilled Steaks w/ Mashed Potatoes

Since we are pantry/freezer eating, we didn't choose very many sides; we will be adding vegetables and other sides to most of these meals though ;)

Monday, September 10, 2012

De and Doug's Den: Percy Jackson

So anyone who knows me decently well knows that I really love ancient cultures, especially their mythologies.  Of all the ancient cultures, Greek mythology is the best known by our modern culture.  So, when I saw a series about a boy who finds out he's actually a demi-god, how could I resist?

The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan is a series I mention a lot on this blog, but I haven't had a chance to explain how amazing this series truly is.  I first found out about the series by accident; I was sick and picking up a prescription at Wal*mart; I had 30 minutes to kill, so I went to pick out a book, figuring I could read for awhile and buy it if I liked it.  I actually sat on a bench in Wal*Mart reading The Lightning Thief for 45 minutes before someone asked me if I was waiting on a prescription!!!  Needless to say, I was definitely hooked.

What you'll love about the series if the fast-pace, the fun characters, and the ability to relate so well to the title character.  The books are written from his perspective; I would characterize them as being similar to the Harry Potter books in reading ease and understanding, as well as stylistically.  The first book is actually the the gateway to reveal a large and sinister plot that threatens Western Civilization as we know it.  There are creative twists and turns that not only add drama and excitement, but show the growth of the individual characters.

Each book ends with a "cliffhanger;"  I ended up devouring the five-book series in a matter of days (less than a week) simply because I had to know what would happen next.  The break between books 2 and 3 (Sea of Monsters and Titan's Curse) was the biggest cliffhanger for me, so if you like the series, you might want to buy those two books together!  Each book is not very long (about 250 pages), so they are great for most kids (6 or 7 and up).  All the books are great for people who can only read a small amount at a time, because the chapters are short and the plot is easy to follow.  The final book in the series (The Last Olympian) dives directly into the action and is very fast-paced compared to the other books; maybe plan on giving yourself an afternoon off just to read this one ;)

In summary, if you are looking for an exciting and easy read, try the Percy Jackson series!  There is a movie based loosely on the first book, so you can watch that and see if you might be interested in the series, but don't be surprised when you pick up the first book and note all the differences!

If you like this series, you can also check out the available book from the sequel series, the Heroes of Olympus series.  The first two books The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune are available now; the third book Mark of Athena comes out October 2.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Sept 9-15)

Mid-September = the lull before the storm.  This week is midterm week in my Spiritual Formation class and Exam Prep week in my Greek class, so school will be taking up most of my time.  However, I have been reading a lot to relax; I might actually catch up to my Reading Goals this month!!!

1.  Two Greek Quizzes
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies
3.  Book Critique/Report (and 150-175 pgs of reading to do for it, due 9/16)

4.  Menu Planning/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Biweekly Filing/Paperwork

6.  REST!!!  Fight off infection!
7.  Consistent Workouts (once I can workout again)
8.  30 x 30 choices blog post!
9.  Follow Spiritual Growth Plan

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Sept 2-8)

Well, this week has had many unexpected twists and turns; hopefully next week will be a bit calmer!!!  Plus, I have a few things I need to accomplish today so I can relax and watch Steelers v Broncos tomorrow night ;)

1.  Three Greek Quizzes (vocab and noun endings)
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies to others -- doing replies right now ;)
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan Results and New Chart (due 9/9) -- doing this right after the replies ;)

4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Clothes Shopping (for Doug)
6.  Begin Cleaning out the Linen Closet -- nope. not going to happen soon.

7.  Consistent Afternoon Workouts (4/6 good, 5/6 great, 6/6 awesome) -- see below
8.  Choose Clothing/Pieces for the 30 by 30 Challenge -- see below
9.  Follow my Spiritual Growth Plan

So, this week went a little crazy.  I was really tired Wednesday and Thursday evenings for no apparent reason.  And I mean really tired.  Like sleeping for 8 hours at night, taking a 2-3 hour nap in the middle of the day (like 3-5 PM), and still being able to fall asleep at my normal bedtime (1 AM).  Wednesday morning was extra bad; Doug had to pull me out of bed so that I could get dressed and leave on time for class.

On Friday, we found on why I was so tired.  Infection.  From a spider bite.  Now I'm all hopped up on antibiotics (which allowed me to sleep for about 11 hours overnight) and hoping that I start regaining energy to conquer this upcoming week.

So, obviously, my plans to choose clothes on Thursday were interrupted by a nap (and a haircut), and I spent most of Friday at the doctor's office, getting my prescription, and eating so I could take my antibiotics. And due to my excessive napping and other craziness, I missed W/R/F workouts.  I think I had a pretty good excuse, though.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Dread (verb):  anticipate with horror, fear, cringe

Yesterday, I got a haircut.

First, I need to explain why the thought of getting a haircut was so dreadful to me.  Since I was 14, I have only let one person style my hair.  Every trim, every color, every highlights and low lights, I trusted only my dear friend Yvette.  Even during my college years of travelling back and forth between PA and VA, I would wait for haircuts and schedule them with her.

Then, I got married.  I moved to VA.  I became an official grown-up.  I couldn't run home for a weekend just to get a haircut.  So I waited and waited for an excuse to go to PA for a haircut.  For over 14 months.

Now, to many of you this just seems ridiculous, but I had already tried to let someone else do my hair, and that had been a disaster.  When we were 20, Doug and I decided to attend our Jr/Sr Banquet at college.  Of course, that meant hair, nails, dress -- the works.  My friend Kim and I made appointments together at JcPenney's, mainly because I knew they were supposed to be expensive and high-end; this was my first time at a "real" salon in years, and I wanted to make sure it would be good.  I asked for the best stylist for up-dos and got the appointment.  I picked out a photo to show the hairdresser, who said it would be no problem.  After all, it was a very simple up-do; how poorly could it go?

It went very poorly.  First, I told him my hair had a lot of natural wave/curl to it.  He dismissed this and tried to put my hair in large rollers under a dryer.  That was a waste of 20 minutes.  After re-shampooing and re-conditioning my hair (to get all the curling mousse and gel out of it), my hair was blow-dried and finally ready to be put up.  However, the stylist parted my hair too far on the left.  After trying to sweep my hair over my forehead and behind my ear, the stylist said, "I know how to fix this!"  In a flash, I saw scissors and a chunk of my hair was gone.  Bangs.  I now had side bangs.  I never asked for bangs.  I did not want a cut.  But, before I could even utter a sound snip and gone.

Frankly, I didn't know what to say.  I mostly tried not to cry.  Everyone tried to be very nice about it, and (in all honesty) it looked perfectly fine.  But still, it scarred me for life.  I just couldn't trust another salon to touch my hair after that.

Well, here I was this week, 14 + months since my last haircut with an extra 13+ inches of hair.  It took an hour to detangle after showering.  I had very few styling options -- braids (which became a nightmare when it got so long) and wearing it up.  I had no choice.  I had to call and make an appointment to see someone in VA.  I got a recommendation from a friend (who had great hair).  I called.  My recommended stylist had an opening for that evening.  I booked it.  And I sat in horror all day.

Super long hair

Yes, it does reach to my waist.

Eventually, the time came.  I picked out a very simple cut (no color), and warned her that she was the first new stylist to cut my hair in over 11 years.  No pressure or anything.

Well, not only did I leave with a great cut (still medium length despite taking off 13 1/2 inches) and some new products, but I also had a sense of accomplishment.  I got a hair cut!  It was not horrible!  I might get another one before the end of this year!

Yea!  Short hair!

Still long enough to put up, but short enough to work with ;)

Even if it is something as silly as getting a haircut, fear has an effect.  I put off something as simple as getting a haircut out of fear.  And hair grows back; it wasn't even a life-altering choice.  If it went poorly, my hair would still grow out and be fixable.

The point is that so often we are scared to do something because of a bad experience, because we do not like change, because we have trust issues, or simply out of fear.  We end up surviving our lives instead of living them.  It is really worth it?

So, I challenge all of you, go get a haircut ;)

{2 Tim 1:7}

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

This is the first "normal" week for us since classes began, which means a "normal" menu!!!

Wednesday -- Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
Thursday -- Baked Salmon w/ Alfredo Pasta and Zucchini
Friday -- Meatloaf w/ Cheddar Ranch Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Saturday -- Pork Fajitas w/ Rice
Sunday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta
Monday -- Burgers and Chips
Tuesday -- Tuna Melts
                  Sausage, Spinach, and Alfredo Pasta w/ Garlic Bread (Double Date Night)

Monday, September 3, 2012


Develop (verb):  cultivate, prosper

This semester, I am taking a (mandatory) class on Spiritual Formation -- basically Spiritual growth.  One of the primary tasks of the class is to create a two-week Spiritual Growth Plan, then continue to update that plan throughout the course.  After creating and starting my plan, I realized how simple and effective this can be in the life of any Christian, so I wanted to share a bit about it with all of you so that you can take advantage of this method of Spiritual Growth!!!

Purpose.  Many Christians try to read the bible every day and spend some time in prayer, but there are several Spiritual Disciplines that can be practiced in the life of a Christian.  If we think of these disciplines as physical exercises, we know that consistency and variety is what keeps our bodies healthy.  We need cardio and weight training.  We must work our legs and arms.  Consistency in these things keeps us strong and healthy.  It is the same in the Christian life; we must practice consistency and stretch ourselves to practice other disciplines in order to grow and strengthen spiritually.

Plan.  A Spiritual Growth Plan is just a list of disciplines you want to practice in your life for the next two weeks.  Things like Bible Reading and Prayer should be a part of everyone's list, but there are many things that you can add, like Journaling, Fellowship, Worship, Fasting, Titheing, Serving, and Evangelism.  You can also add "practical" things to your plan as well, like Physical Exercise or Financial Control -- both have to do with being a good steward of what God has given.  Just pick some things to do daily or weekly and write out your goals.

Here is a sample from my plan:  Prayer -- I will set aside 20 minutes every day to pray, I will create a prayer list of requests including a list of unsaved family/friends, I will prayer for a different country/people group every week.

While my Prayer goal has three components, yours can be as simple as just praying every day.  This is why the plan works well -- every person can choose goals based on where they are spiritually.  Each person can grow at their own pace in the areas in which they need to grow.  After two weeks, you evaluate how you did (we are using a chart to check off days) and update your goals accordingly.  By continuing this practice over a few months, you should be more consistent in spiritual disciplines and should be able to see where you are growing!!!

Partner.  One thing I recommend is finding a Growing Partner.  If you and a friend both agree to make and follow a Spiritual Growth plan, you can encourage each other to continue growing.  Just be careful to keep it from becoming a competition -- that might mean not telling each other what goals you are doing, but just asking if you completed your daily and weekly goals.  This person can also become a great Prayer Partner for you.  This is something that wasn't part of the class, but I believe has a lot of value and will help with continued motivation.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Sept 2-8)

It is September!!!  While I am SO excited for Fall (which won't really hit for another two weeks here in VA, but still), I know that classes are starting to pick up, which will require much more effort and time.  The best thing about Fall, though, is FOOTBALL SEASON!!!  As a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I have my terrible towel ready for the season to begin.

1.  Three Greek Quizzes (vocab and noun endings)
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies to others
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan Results and New Chart (due 9/9)

4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Clothes Shopping (for Doug)
6.  Begin Cleaning out the Linen Closet

7.  Consistent Afternoon Workouts (4/6 good, 5/6 great, 6/6 awesome)
8.  Choose Clothing/Pieces for the 30 by 30 Challenge
9.  Follow my Spiritual Growth Plan

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Aug 26-Sept 1)

This week has been CRAZY!  With my parents being here all weekend (spoiling us) and Doug and I still getting used to being in classes, the week was very convoluted.  Like "What day is today?" convoluted.  Hopefully we will be able to keep our heads on straight this week ;)

1.  Greek Quiz (8/27)
2.  Essay (400 words) and reply to others -- replies to do tomorrow
3.  Book Report/Critique (due 9/2) -- I still have tomorrow ;)

4.  Menu Blog Post (Plan and grocery shopping done!)
5.  Cut Doug's hair (and trim his beard!)

6.  Workouts/Gym -- the gym has been evasive, but I managed to get some workouts done at home
7.  Enjoy the PLL Summer Finale!!!
8.  Schedule a haircut ;) -- I have a place and stylist picked out, I just need to get on the schedule!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Document: August

Ermahgerd, it's September!!!  I really cannot believe it is already September, and  that 2012 is 3/4 complete!    August is also a "transitional" month for me (with school beginning), but this August was so busy!  I had a class end, another two classes began, Doug and I redecorated our bedroom and our guest room, my parents visited, and I welcomed friends to Lynchburg for school beginning.  Busy, busy, busy!!!

12 in 2012.  August was supposed to be all about vacation and relaxing; ha!  Since we had to relax so much in July, we worked hard in August to complete our bedroom and our guest room.  I still want to update our linen closet and bathroom, but our house is definitely back in working order.  I also took care of a lot of my September 2012 goal by cleaning out my dresser and closet and donating the clothes to charity.

Reading.  While I have improved, I am still behind!!!  I have read 56 (and a half) books so far this year, including 27 new books.  I am working through the Percy Jackson series (2 1/2 to go), to be followed by the Heroes of Olympus series (2 to go), to prep for Mark of Athena (to be released on Oct 2!).  Not to mention at least two book to read for school, and I still have three Women's Murder Club books to read (2 of them are new).  Now that I have settled into my Fall Schedule, reading has become much easier (and necessary).  Can I read another 44 books in the next four months?  I guess we'll see...

Cooking.  I was able to try a lot of new things this month, like Grilled London Broil (with plenty of leftover for fajitas) and Mini Beef Wellingtons.  as I am writing this, my Southern-Style Mac and Cheese is baking, so I should be able to tell you how that turned out soon ;)  September = apples and pumpkin, so I am hoping to try making some Mini Apple Pies, Pumpkin Cupcakes, and some different breads (Banana, Apple Cinnamon) and cupcakes.  I have been making a lot of smoothies for school, but I would love to try using Oatmeal, Chia Seeds, and different fruits/flavors this month.

Health/Fitness.  Making it to the gym has been inconsistent, to say the least.  I have been able to stretch every morning and start using my new yoga and walking DVDs (as well as walking a bit to class).  I injured my ankle this week, so I will have to take it easy/low-impact this week, but it is nice to be back on a schedule.  I also pinned a couple detox ideas -- everything from a 30 min soak in the tub to a one week detox diet -- that I would like to look into more this month.  I've never done a detox before, so I want to take it slow and make sure it is safe before starting.

For September, I am hoping to try the 30 for 30 challenge.  I haven't chosen my wardrobe pieces yet, but I will be working on it this week.  I've seen some people follow this for 30 days straight, while others have done 3 days a week for 10 weeks.  I think I'm going to try to do 4 days a week for 8 weeks (I know that makes 32, but oh well), which is when cold weather will start to hit.  Here's to September!!!