Sunday, July 26, 2009

A year ago today:

We were on our way to Charleston for our honeymoon!

Yesterday was our anniversary, and it was wonderful!
We went to church with my whole family and later went to lunch at Doc Green's (my choice-healthy and low key.) They were wonderful and bought us a new vacuum which we are SO thankful for!
Joel and I spent the afternoon at the pool working on our tans and listening to side conversations going on around us. I love neighborhood pools :)

We came home and watched the final two episodes of Gilmore Girls (don't hate-you know you love it too). After that, we went to Whole Foods to buy our fabulous food for the evening:

We watched the first three episodes of my favorite, Pride and Prejudice. Joel bought me a book: The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles, a storypeople card, and lilies. My favorite.
Joel's mom brought me hydrangeas from her garden a few days ago, and you can see the wooden bowls Joel picked up for me and the cookies I bought him at IKEA on Saturday. His gift is a new pair of Pumas, but I couldn't find them in the store so I told him to find them online.

It ended up being a perfect day. I'm so thankful for my husband and the wonderful year we've had!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Candyland Battle

I play Candyland with my client now, to practice taking turns and whatnot. I had never played the game before, so you know, the first session I had to actually read the instructions.

I'm usually one to let a kid win, but not this time. My three-year-old client beat me twice in a row. Honestly, if I had just not given my client any assistance on the counting part of it, I would have won.

Well, today, the tables turned. I actually won at Candyland, and yes, I will gloat. Unashamedly.

I love my job.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dessert success!

We had Joel's parents over for dinner last night, and per Joel's request, we had our typical summer menu: burgers (which fell apart and became sloppy joes), corn, and fried green tomatoes. I made biscuits for Joel's dad that were made with all organic ingredients. It ended up being a really monochromatic meal, oops!

But my favorite part of the meal: peach ginger sorbet.

It's a WW recipe, only 2 points per serving!

Here it goes:
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. light corn syrup
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 lb. peaches (peeled, pitted, quartered)
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. table salt

1) Combine water, sugar, corn syrup and ginger in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Let it boil for 1 minute and then set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.
2) Pour sugar mixture into a blender or food processor, blend with peaches, lemon juice, and salt until pureed.
3) Pour into a bowl and freeze for about 8 hours.
4) This step confused me-I put it into my ice cream maker but I think I used it wrong. To serve it, I just defrosted the sorbet a bit and shaved it off into a teacup :)

It's really refreshing, but because of the ginger, it's spicy at the end. It's really yummy!

I think I'm going to try make a green grape sorbet later. Mmm...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

At the risk of now being overly scrutinized...

I wanted to share some things that I've been thinking about over the past few months.

I joined Weight Watchers to lose weight, yes, but also to just be healthier in general. I realize that I eat cheeseburgers every now and then, and somehow factor in ice cream almost 3 times a week, but I know that I'm learning how to just control my portion sizes.

I've also started thinking a lot about where our food comes from and how it's processed. I've mentioned that Joel and I shop at the farmers' market, more for the cost than for the environmental/social benefits. It helps us stay on budget to buy locally.

However, a few months ago I learned about a study about workers in chicken processing plants in NC and the health problems they suffer. You can find the abstract here.

Joel and I started talking about where our food comes from and the social costs we really don't think about. As Christians, we know the Lord has called us to be loving to our neighbors. One way we feel we can do this is to consider how the least of these in our state are treated, often in indentured servitude-like positions.

We tried buying our groceries at Whole Foods but it got really expensive (of course). But, step by step, we're trying to move towards different ways of buying our food and different meals. I mean, I still need to buy regular chicken and veggies sometimes, but we're trying to slowly introduce organic and locally grown foods. So I realize that if you look at my fridge it won't look like the picture of sustainability, so don't judge me! I just wanted to know if other people out there are also thinking about these things/changing their lifestyles.

Last night, I saw Food, Inc. and it brought up a lot of issues that we've been thinking about for a while. Namely:
-Farmers and plant workers rights
-buying locally to support NC farmers and reduce how much "oil" goes into our food.
-foodborne illness
-chemicals and additives in food that our body isn't used to
-sustainability and the global food crisis

Joel is totally supportive of me looking into this, and today we spend forever looking at the ingredients lists on the food we bought. It was good to just be aware of what we're eating.

It is really challenging to revamp how we do things, though, and balance natural food, health, and a budget. . Here are some examples of the challenges:
-I love to bake, but I want to include ingredients that are low fat, low sugar. So I bought a "buttery spread" on sale that was, calorie-wise, really healthy. But the additives list was ridiculously long. Buying our butter from the farmers' market like we used to do means I compromise health. What to do??
-I wish we could buy meat from grass-fed animals, for the above stated reasons, but it's so expensive. EEK!

Anyway, I'm just on the beginning of my research-journey, and I'm not trying to be all granola-hippy-wacko. But if anyone else is thinking about these things, let me know! I'd love recipes, suggestions, and information!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summary, new beginnings

Our trip:

Was awesome. We got to connect with some old and new friends, and I was absolutely floored by how hospitable our Turkish friends were.

I'll give some highlights of the trip:
-On Tuesday, before we left, I woke up and Joel had a horrible toothache. He hadn't slept all night! He went to a dentist who told him to go get his tooth pulled at an oral surgeon! That morning, I was frantically trying to pick up some last minute trip items, finish packing, and then sorting out meds for Joel. He got home at noon with a chipmunk cheek, and his dad came to pick us up at 1 to go to the airport. CRAZY.

We got to the airport and checked our bags, went through security, etc...with 3 hours to spare. Oops. Then our flight was delayed, so we ended up spending about 6 hours in Raleigh...I just wanted to get on the plane and go, so that was a little frustrating. When we got to JFK, we had planned to change some money, but our flight out of JFK was leaving 20 minutes after we landed, due to the delay. Joel had to wait to get our checked-carry on bag, so he sent me ahead to find the flight (in a different terminal) and tell them to wait! I sprinted through the airport, all the while calling Joel on the phone to tell him how to follow me. We ended up getting lost and we couldn't figure out how to get to each other, but I found some friendly travelers who were also flying to Madrid, so I followed them. I was pretty stressed, but thank the Lord that we met up! It turned out that after we had boarded, the flight didn't take off for another hour, but I had passed out by that time. Our flight to Madrid was really long, but as it was throughout the night, I was able to sleep for most of the trip.

We got to Madrid with 15 minutes to board our flight, and didn't make it. To make a long story short, we did end up getting to Istanbul with some complications that I've already written about.

I'll fast forward to my favorite parts of the trip I haven't yet documented:

-On Friday, we met with my friend Julie who teaches there. She took us to Ortakoy to eat stuffed potatoes and waffles (AMAZING). I am so thankful for that time to see her!

-On Saturday, Olgun and Mustafa took Joel, me, and a guy named Steven out around all the touristy parts of Istanbul. We visited the Blue Mosque, took pictures outside the Hagia Sofia, and went to Topkapi Palace. It was absolutely wonderful!

-That night, Joel and I went out to dinner, just the two of us. We had a couple lunches from sidewalk cafes together, but this was the only thing we did out, just the two of us. We got to eat upstairs in this super cute restaurant, next to an open window looking out on to Istiklal. We got some yummy ice cream and then sat down for chai down a side street near our hotel. It was a perfect evening :)

-On Sunday, we shopped for lots of souvenirs, and then spent the evening with a family with whom Joel spent lots of time last time he was there. They're from the States but have lived in Istanbul with their two kids for about 5 years. They're both amazing artists, and he showed us a mural he had painted in Istanbul- I wish I had gotten a picture. They took us to a very cute park for dinner, and after dinner we spent a lot of time sharing music and they gave us some great marriage advice :)

-On Monday, we finished shopping and the guys took us out for one last meal in Istanbul-and baklava! It was delicious. I never actually went to sleep that night, and our taxi came at 4am to take us to the airport.

Our trip home was really long, more because Joel picked up a stomach bug and was sick the whole way home. Although none of our flights were delayed (praise the Lord!) it felt like we'd never be home. I slept very little on the plane because I was so worried about Joel. My parents picked us up at the airport, Pepto in hand, and graciously dropped us off at home to go to bed. This may sound really silly, but every other trip I've been on, I've always had to wait to see Joel because we didn't live together. I had this giddy moment when I realized I wasn't going to have say goodbye to him, and that was really nice.

That night, my head hit the pillow at 9am and I woke up 12 hours later. Needless to say, we were exhausted.

The trip was amazing, and I'm SO thankful we were able to go on this trip. I cannot wait to go back!


In other news, I'm back on Weight Watchers after a 2 week hiatus and a couple pounds more to show for it. I really hope to reach my goal weight by the end of the summer!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We are home!

I will post more later...but here's a link to our pictures! Enjoy!

Istanbul photo album

Friday, July 10, 2009


I am not going to spend my whole morning typing up our travels thus far...but since we have wi-fi in our room, I thought I'd update a little on our trip so far!

We had a very LONG trip to Istanabul...about 28 hours total. Our two flights before Madrid were delayed significantly, so when we got to Madrid we had missed our flight by literally 10 minutes. Thankfully, there was a later flight and we got a voucher for food. We weren't too upset, just exhausted, but I was happy that I got to spend even just a couple hours among the familiar. We ate tortilla espanola and I had zuma de naranja (just fresh squeezed orange juice, but it sounds fancier when I type it in spanish). I know it was just airport food, but it reminded me of the last time I was in that airport, coming back from my beloved Santiago de Compostela, trying to spend as many minutes as I could in the country I fell in love with.

Anyway, we arrived in Istanbul around 11pm (4pm NC time) and the things got crazy. We weren't able to get many Turkish Lira because 1) The bank in Raleigh had none, 2) RDU and Madrid didn't have any and 3) We literally sprinted from through JFK to make our flight to Madrid, and had no time to stop to find money. When we got to Turkey, we realized our cards didn't work, even though 1) We already have talked to our bank about our trip and 2) They worked fine in Madrid. We panicked a little because we had only about 20 euros and 15 TL, and we needed to buy visas to get into Istanbul. I think the man selling Visas gypped us a little, but we didn't care. We made it through, only to find that our one checked bag did not wait for us at the airport. They sent it back to Madrid...we should get it sometime today.

We arranged for Joel's friend, Olgun, to pick us up at the airport. He arrived with a friend, Mustafa. When we got through the baggage claim, there was a HUGE crowd of people waiting, and all of a sudden, I see a Turkish man, about Joel's age, running in front of the crowd. He jumped on Joel and gave him a big hug. He was so patient to wait for us, and he understood that we had NO money, and offered to help us in whatever we needed. This culture is so hospitable.

He drove us through the insane streets of Istanbul..I was holding Joel's hand for dear life as Olgun sped through the highway, dodging cars left and right. As we neared Taksim, Olgun and Mustafa started yelling out the window to pedestrians to point the way to our hotel. Every 100 yards they'd ask someone and the man would point down the road, or point right, or tell us it was up ahead.

We finally got to our hotel, and the men waited for us to make sure everything was ok. We thanked them and although they offered to take us to get food, we had to decline. We were exhausted. I think they understood and we promised to meet up with them the following day (last night).

Joel and I woke up late yesterday and went down to the hotel's breakfast. It was AMAZING...seriously, I already know I'm going to miss it. There is a huge spread of: bread, cheese, meat, olives, 15 different kinds of sauces, jams, and Nutella :), yogurt, nuts, dried fruit, cereal, eggs, and juice. Oh my goodness, even though I just ate, my mouth is watering just talking about it!

We walked up and down the main street near our hotel room and figured out stuff with our bank, bought a memory card for my camera (of course, I forgot it), and Joel taught me how to order water from a street vendor. He took me to his old apartment and then to his favorite restaurant. He is so happy to be here, and I'm learning why. The city is really interesting and the people we've met so far have bent over backwards to be hospitable.

We took a nap at our hotel after lunch, and met up with Olgun and Mustafa for dinner. Thankfully, they let us buy them dinner, but they ordered for us. I think I had lamb and rice. Joel had some sort of tomato-y lamp with yogurt. After dinner, they walked us to another part of the city with a beautiful outdoor cafe. They taught us how to order tea, or chai, and we talked aout, of all things, Obama, Sarah Palin, and a protest I had seen earlier in Taksim Square.

After our tea, they walked us all around the city, by the Bosphorus, several Mosques, into a bazaar when half a dozen men came up Mustafa trying to get us to sit down and smoke a hookah type thing. I know it's not called a hookah, but I forgot the name. Mustafa bought us Magnum bars...if you've never had one, you've never lived. Quite possibly the most delicious ice cream bar on earth. We talked about education, their businesses, and how to get around the city. I am still floored at their hospitality. Saturday, we're going to meet up again and they will take us to the Grand Bazaar. I can't wait!

This ended up being longer than I had planned, but I don't want to forget a single detail of this trip. I'm already sad about leaving in a few days! Thank the Lord that we were able to go on this trip...last night we were daydreaming about our next adventure-Spain? Germany? Who knows!

I will try take more pictures today. I need to get over the fact that I am a tourist and there are no two ways about it-I'm going to look touristy no matter what I do!

Ok, time to get ready. Gule Gule!

Monday, July 06, 2009


Phew: We are almost all packed, planned, and the house is cleaned (enough). We have a great contact in Istanbul who is so hospitable and will serve as a guide of sorts.

We are leaving tomorrow! Please pray for safe travels!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Beach baking!

Yet again, I'm headed to the beach this weekend...and this time I'm responsible for breakfast and lunch on Saturday.

Blueberry muffins and biscuits (can't help myself)


Turkey burgers (the picture looks gross-but look at all that veggie goodness in there!)

Pasta salad

A little carb heavy...but who wants to eat broccoli at the beach?
Tyler and Joel served as my taste-testers and approved it all.

My kitchen was a wreck halfway through, but it's all cleaned up now.

I would have started this whole cooking shindig earlier in the week..but life got in the way!
oel and I got home at 9 from helping Meredith move, and I realized-uh oh! I haven't made anything for the weekend.

I spend two and a half hours cooking and then cleaning up the kitchen, but it was actually fun. I was able to recover all my songs that I thought I had lost when my computer died-bonus! I had lots of catching up to do on all my old iTunes songs. I found all the songs Yolanda had sent me from I spent a good hour reminiscing about Santiago. Among the other artists I rediscovered: K's Choice, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Jump, Jon Foreman, Mindy Smith, Regina Spektor...could I be any happier?

2 random notes:

I'm not sure if I ever posted this picture of Grace Elizabeth in my hater blockers, but even if I have, it's a good repeat. She's so big now, I'm sure these sunglasses would fit her ;)

Tonight, I love these three songs:

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Lists lists lists

We are leaving for Turkey in less than a week! I am a little nervous because:
1) I don't know the language.
2) We only have an hour layover in Madrid. That includes going through customs. We are trying to get a later flight out but we're not sure if we can.
3) When we get back, I'll only have about a month left of summer. I'm not sure I'm ready to go back to school!

I am super thankful because:
1) We actually have the opportunity to do this!
2) We will meet up with lots of friends while there.
3) We have had the blessing of some odd jobs this summer for spending money.
4) We're both over our horrible colds and feeling great.
5) We're going to eat some awesome food :)

Please pray for:
1) Smooth and safe travel-our layover in Madrid, luggage issues, etc.
2) Our ability to communicate with people.
3) That we would be a blessing to the missionaries there and help them with what they need.
4) That Joel and I would grow closer!

I am working with a small child with autism this summer-love the family and I love my job! I am also continuing to tutor this summer. It's really nice to have part time work; I still feel like it's summer but I'm not wasting my time.

This weekend I'm back to the beach with some friends, so I think I'll be back to making-ahead lots of meals. Any ideas for good recipes?