Thursday, February 23, 2012


I live a double life.  Most of my life is in Durham, but a large chunk of my life remains in Houston.  I've been traveling to Houston at least one week every month, sometimes more.  This is a busy time, and in four weeks, I've been in Houston 15 days.  While I miss Durham, Brent, and Blazer tons while I'm traveling, I do enjoy getting to see my friends and eat the food I miss like crazy.  Oh yeah, and I love my job too!  Houston weeks are always crazy-busy, so I never post while I'm here.  However, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into my everyday Houston life with the instagrams I've taken over my last two weeks here.

{dinner with katy b, my very first friend... we've been friends since we were 3, and I got to go over to her house since she moved to houston recently!  it was good to catch up.}
{katy's son, mason.  i mean, adorable.}
{as seen on food network:  queso fundido at the original ninfa's.  worth every calorie.}
{afternoon treat at crave cupcakes}
{nerd alert:  evening educator's forum at the museum of fine art - how to incorporate art into curriculum}
{taking my sweet nephew luke for a walk}
{adorable 6th graders reading the outsiders}
{love this classroom}
{weekly to-do list}
{dinner at tiny's no. 5 with erica.  beautiful weather.  serene atmosphere.}
{another shot at tiny's.  i heart that place big time.}
{the approximate speed at which one normally drives in Houston.  this is not an exaggeration, and this was an actual shot of my speedometer on the way to work.  i was going 2 mph people - it was safe to take a pic.  and check facebook.  and troll pinterest.}
{jason, jessica, & ixa - kids i taught in 7th grade all grown up and super smart in 10th grade now}
{student annotation of "the telltale heart"}
{best tex-mex IN THE ENTIRE WORLD:  lupe tortilla}
{the thursday night lupe's crew: besties}
From H-town with love,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Seeing Stripes

Stripes are in, people.  You can't look very far at any store without getting an eyeful of striped tops, skirts, dresses, and scarves.  I am loving the trend, especially with spring coming up.  The other day I went in search of affordable (cheap) striped cuteness.  At one point I did have to tell myself (out loud):  "NO MORE STRIPES" when I realized that literally everything I had in the dressing room with me was striped in some way.  Let's face it: If you're not wearing stripes, you're not cool.  :-)  Here I have for you, dear reader, a collection of savvy stripe options ($32 or less) and more splurge-worthy striped pieces, um, above $32.  Happy shopping!

Savvy Stripes

Target Mossimo Supply Jersey Dress
($18! SUPER comfy and flattering... hello summer)
{shop here}

Old Navy Black & White Striped Dress ($16!)
(at $16, you can get one in every color)
{shop here}

Old Navy Striped Maxi ($29!)
(love the subtle chevron pattern)
{shop here}

Old Navy Bright Striped Shift ($32!)
(with leggings, boots, and a sweater to finish up winter?)
{shop here}

Old Navy Yellow Cap Sleeve Dress ($25!)
(this screams summer, and I love that it's not too short... i'm going to replace that tie with a cute belt)
{shop here}

Ann Taylor Loft Red Striped Tee ($29!)
(goes with anything and could be layered)
{shop here}

Splurge-Worthy Stripes

Ann Taylor Loft Striped Trench
(bright and cheery for a rainy day)
{shop here}

J.Crew Boatneck Popover (...and I'll take the pink pants, too.  Thanks.)
(um... do you see the mini-pockets?  so cute I don't care that they are pointless)
{shop here}

Banana Republic Striped One-Button Cardigan
(i would wear this on every plane ride ever plus every weekend)
{shop here}

Nordstrom Eliza J Dress
(spring wedding, anyone?)
{shop here}

Anthropologie Otta Dress
(not exactly stripes, but stripe-y and still adorable)
{shop here}

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Party of Two

This Valentines, we decided to avoid the crowds and stay home!  Actually, we went out for dinner on the 13th, then stayed in on the 14th.  We both agreed that we liked our night at home better - the atmosphere was better, the food was better, and the price was, well... a lot better!  We opted for a "French Bistro" menu which was simple and casual but still special enough for Valentines.
 Bistro Menu:
  • White wine steamed mussels
  • Herb roasted chicken
  • Pommes Frites
  • Molten chocolate cakes
White Wine Steamed Mussels

Mussels sound complicated, but they are quite possibly one of the easiest things I've cooked.  Plus, a two pound bag of mussels was only $5.99 at Whole Foods!
1-2 pounds of mussels
2 finely chopped shallots
2-3 chopped garlic cloves
1 cup dry white wine
thyme or chives for garnish

Discard any broken or open mussels.  Rinse under cold water.  Saute garlic and shallots in olive oil in a large skillet for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.  Add wine and bring to a simmer.  Add mussels and cover, letting steam for 5-7 minutes until all mussels open.  Discard any mussles that do NOT open.  Sprinkle mussels with thyme or chives and kosher salt.  Serve in a bowl with broth and crusty bread, if desired.
Herb Roasted Chicken

skin on, bone-in chicken breasts and leg pieces (I used one breast and one leg)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine all herbs, olive oil, salt, & pepper in a small bowl.  Rinse chicken & pat dry.  Loosen skin and run herb mixture under skin.  Drizzle chicken tops with olive oil & sprinkle with kosher salt.  Roast for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Then increase the oven to 450 degrees and roast for 30 additional minutes.
Pommes Frites

2-3 Yukon gold potatoes (for 2 people)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
2 teaspoons garlic salt

Cut potatoes into thin matchsticks.  In a Ziploc bag, toss potatoes with olive oil, thyme, and garlic salt.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Do not cover the baking sheet with foil - fries will stick.  Bake at 450 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes, tossing once during cooking with a spatula. If you're making these with the chicken, simply add them to the oven for the last 30 minutes of the chicken's cooking time when the chicken is cooking at 450 as well.

Molten Chocolate Cakes
{My mom's recipe}

20 unwrapped dove dark chocolate pieces
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 4 ramekin dishes with cooking spray.  Melt chocolate, butter, and sugar over low heat.  Whisk in eggs.  Stir in flour and mix well.  Pour evenly into 4 prepared dishes and place dishes on a baking sheet.  Bake 10 - 13 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and/or fruit.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Loving the Word

I have never been much of a morning person.  Once I get up, I do love the freshness and newness and quietness of the morning... once I get up.  It's that whole "getting up" part that's the issue for me.  It takes at least 3 alarms and a few licks from Blazer to get me out of bed.  When I lived in Houston, I had to be at work super early, so getting up to spend time with the Lord was really difficult.  I finally got into somewhat of a routine that involved copious amounts of coffee, but it was hit or miss.  Now that I work from North Carolina, I am on Eastern time and my work is on Central time.  This means that essentially, my entire work day has shifted forward by one hour.  Instead of starting work at 7:30, I start at 8:30.  Instead of finishing at 5:30, I finish around 6:30.  This is totally fine with me, because it gives me a whole glorious hour in the morning to read and pray, and I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to do it.

Somehow I got myself into four Bible studies at one time, so it's a good thing I have 45 minutes to an hour each day to work through them.  I'm reading through the New Testament one chapter a day with Watermark Church.  I'm doing a study of Daniel with the "wives" club here.  I'm studying Jonah with a senior I'm discipling through CRU.  And I'm reading through the Old Testament on my own.  So on any given day, I'm reading the New Testament, the early Old Testament, and the prophetic books!  At first I thought it was going to be confusing, but it has been the biggest blessing!  For the last few months, God has just been opening my mind and drawing me in with his word and causing me to love it (and him) more and more each day. 

Working through different parts of the Bible at the same time has given me so much perspective on the people of God, the character of God, and the promises of God that we see fulfilled in scripture.  In my Daniel study, we're learning about what the "end times" might look like, and I see that there is so much deception and so many lies in the world that we are quick to believe.  I think what I love most about my daily time in the word is that it saturates me in truth.  Each day I see more and more of who God really is, and that helps me to see the world through the lens of truth.  I've started to make a concentrated effort to memorize scripture, and it has been a great experience which I'll post more about later.

I've never told the full story of how Brent & I met and fell in love, but I'll tell you part of it today.  We were friends in college, and I didn't like him that way until a ski trip we took with friends.  We drove to Colorado and back, so we had plenty of time to chat.  I clearly remember Brent and some of our other friends starting an impromptu game of Bible trivia.  Basically, this consisted of them lobbing questions at Brent and Brent knowing the answer to every single one.  I remember sitting there in silence because I sure didn't know the answers!  And I remember thinking that I wanted to know the Bible as well as Brent.  That's truly when I began to like him as more than a friend.  Well, fast forward to today:  Brent sill knows a lot more about the Bible than I do.  However, I'm slowly but surely catching up! :-) The more I read, the more I know, and the more in love with the Lord I become.  Brent is always there as a sounding board when I say things like, "Can you BELIEVE that Aaron was the one who made a golden idol for the people, after what God had just done for them??"  or "Wait, can we go through the genealogy in Genesis one more time?"  or "I should really know this, but not all the gospels were written by disciples, right?"  It felt good to be in church last week when our pastor mentioned that he was going to talk about the "sign of Jonah".  I leaned over and whispered excitedly... "That's in Matthew!  I know that! And I know exactly what it's referring to!"

Sitting with my coffee by the window each morning is the highlight of my day.  There is no TV on, no emails chiming on my computer, and no calls coming in.  It's quiet, and I need it.  If I miss a day for some reason, I feel it.  It puts my mind on the things of the Lord and helps me to focus for the rest of the day.  So yes, I've been quiet on the blog lately, but I think that partly reflects the quietness of my heart and my life lately, and I don't have much else to say except Praise the Lord!  For he is holy and sovereign and loving and just and his word is wonderful.  So that's what I wanted to say today.
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