Friday, February 29, 2008

First Image

Well today for lunch I decided to start playing around with the new CAMERA (it came a couple of days ago). I didn't have anything interesting to photograph so you get to see what I had for lunch today. (Vegetable Soup, Yogurt Covered Raisins, and of course some English Teatime Tea; it's in the the Starbucks cup, the machine is up and running!!)
Love the depth of field on this lens (it goes down to 1.4 WOW)... can't wait to purchase more... but that probably won't be for a long while:)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Beauty in Patience

Trying to find the beauty in patience.

I have been in a real rut lately awaiting the arrival of some significant events, i.e. buying a house, getting a puppy etc.
My personality does not lend itself to waiting in peace. I tend to get anxious, frustrated, and just plain restless when presented with such a situation. Just ask my poor husband who has the patience of a Saint, especially with me.
I have been asking God for patience lately and really studying what true patience is. I guess I will share with you what I have learned.
these are some words that DO NOT mean patience
Stoicism - "bear it"
Fatalism - "put up with it"
Passivism - "roll with it"
Escapism - "move away from it"
Isolationism - "shut it out"
Humanism - "deal with it"

(I wanted to be at peace with my waiting, not just bear it or throw it under a rug.)

Patience is not a virtue achieved but more of a character received.
I listened to this great sermon based on Job 1:20-22 by Sir John Calvin (yes Calvin)
Here are a few of the more profound statements from the sermon.

Job threw himself to the ground having the aim of worship.
"i come to do Thee a new homage. When it pleases Thee to afflict me in the world. Lord I voluntarily yield myself to Thee and ask nothing unless it be to render myself subject to thy hand whatever may come of it."

"But as for us we must suffer patiently to be stripped by force when we have been clothed with goods and riches. We must allow I say that God should deprive of us of everything and we should live entirely undressed and naked and that we should be prepared to return to the grave in such condition. This I say is how we shall prove that we are patient, and this is what Job wished to indicate in this passage. Thus however and whenever we shall lack the goods of this world we should be hungry and thirsty. we shall be pressed by some afflictions and shall not have any help let us think of our origin let us look at ourselves , who we are and where we are going."
This really put things in perspective. When God places things in our hands we feel as though we are the right owners. However, God has given and can take away and either way it would do us no harm. He does not give up the title on the things we are given. We are no less injured when he takes away than when he gives; for both may please the Lord

Praise the Lord for what I have been given. We deserve total depravity and separation from Him and He has total liberty to give and take at his will.
1 Timothy 6:17
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."
I think I found the beauty in patience!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good
after Christmas this year I decided that I would purchase a Nintendo Wii for my wonderful husband for his birthday (which is March 5th). However I had NO idea how hard it would be to get my hands on one! Since Christmas I have been on the lookout... I even recruited friends & family to be on constant Wii-Watch, who in turn recruited their friends; we had quite the Wii Train. But alas until this week it remained just a dream. After countless trips to various Wii retailers over the last few months this Tuesday afternoon my luck turned around. This Tuesday started out just like any other Tuesday. However I had a strange feeling I would soon become a Wii owner myself. I was running late for work as usual, didn't have time to pack a lunch as usual, and was running out of the door in quite a hurry as usual. The mornings work passed without anything out of the ordinary and around noon my stomach was telling me it was time to eat! Since I didn't have time to pack a lunch I was heading home for a nice turkey sandwich but on my way I was going stop by Wal-mart and just see if they had some Wiis in stock. Long story short, they had them in the back but they weren't checked in yet... I waited for what seemed like hours (it was only 45 min.) and they even talked me into an extra controller. I couldn't wait for his birthday so I surprised him that night with it! Now by the time our families come to visit we will be pros!
Now THAT is a good thing!
g up is hard to do no matter what kind of day it is. But of course today the weather called for even MORE snow... eww. It is hard to drag yourself to work when you are facing a full day of inclement weather. Running late of course, I put on my boots and trapsed off to work looking forward to a nice hot chocolate. But today I went to the Starbucks machine that we are lucky enough to have in our building. Sadly, there was a large sign haphazardly hung telling me it was "Out of Order." I ordinarily don't get coffee (If i drink coffee I prefer my French press that I have at home) but I often use the hot water to make tea, apple cider, or hot chocolate. It has actually become quite a routine. I sincerely look forward to it everyday... and I enjoy bringing some back for others in the cube farm as well!
This was a BAD thing.
The Ugly
As I had said before, the weather forecast was NOT promising today. Due to poor planning and NEVER being able to wake up on time, I once again didn't have time to pack a lunch. So around noon I venture out into the cold to find a bona fide BLIZZARD. This is what it looked like when I left to go home for lunch. YUCK!! It took me twice as long to get home and to get back. So much for a lunch break!
This was just plain UGLY!!!

Where are you Spring???

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spanish Rice Recipe

I found a great Spanish Rice recipe the other day and it is really simple and totally delish.

(It isn't super quick) It Can be prepared in 40 minutes or less.

It's a fantastic accompaniment to steak, chicken, or Mexican entrees such as tacos or enchiladass. It is prepared by browning the rice first with onions and garlic, before cooking it in chicken stock with added tomato. The browning is essential to the nutty, almost toasty flavor of the rice..


2 tablespoons olive oil (can use up to 1/4 cup)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups of medium or long-grain white rice

3 cups* chicken stock (or vegetable stock if vegetarian)
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste (I used the whole can) or 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes, strained
Pinch of oregano
1 teaspoon salt

*Check the instructions on the rice package for the proportions of liquid to rice. They can range from 1:1 to 2:1. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice, then for this recipe, use 4 cups of stock for 2 cups of rice.

1 In a large skillet brown rice in olive oil, medium/high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook onion rice mixture, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, or until onions are softened.

2 In a separate sauce pan bring stock to a simmer. Add tomato sauce, oregano, and salt. Add rice to broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Lower heat and cook 15-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6.

I hope you enjoy as much as Matt and I did. YUM!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Paris Gerrard

I just LOVE this artist. Check out more of her art here. I especially love her current stuff with the legs. I can't wait to mimic some of this stuff with my new camera. Who doesn't like a good "from the waist down" shot?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Canon EOS 40D

It's official! Some time this week Matt and I are welcoming a brand new bundle of digital goodness into our home and hearts, the Canon EOS 40D! I am soo excited! This camera will be my first personal digital SLR, although I have used them for quite some time. I just can't wait to get my hands on it!:) Hopefully I will be posting some experimental images very soon!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chocolate A Capella

Once again, Matt and I had a fabulous weekend here in the Icy tundra of East Central Illinois. It was full of lots of fun events- some that probably sped along the arrival of my Ear-Infection and Bronchitis that kept me home for two days straight and made me miss a work trip to Chicago. I am feeling much better now, hence feeling up to posting.

Monticello- Covered in Chocolate
On Friday Evening Matt and I made the trip to Monticello, a small town near Champaign. The town had it's annual Chocolate Fantasy where participants were given a list of local businesses and encouraged to visit each one (getting a Chocolate treat in return). Besides the cold rain, the trip was absolutely delightful. I am a huge fan of small towns and we got to visit a lot of wonderful shops that i never would have known about.

This was one of our FAVORITE finds. The Polish Pottery shop. Who would have thought such culture resides in Monticello. I have had a few friends go on missions to Poland and I remember them bringing back such beautiful pottery. Now I can buy some right here in Illinois. It isn't quite as cool as going to Poland, but it is a close second.

A Capella 5 on 9
Another stellar event we were privileged to attend this weekend was the A Capella concert "A Capella 5 on 9" in Tolono. We were invited by our good friends Krista and Kris and we had a BLAST! Basically there were 5 groups from universities around the area that performed. The groups consisted of the Rip Chords from the U of I, the Xtension Chords also from the U of I,
from ISU, Touch of Class, and one more that I can't remember the name of. The groups were so entertaining and lots of fun to listen to. It was so amazing to see them use their voices to make such interesting sounds. We even got to listen to a beatboxing competition between the teams. It was great!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Illustrations and Goodbye Ricky/Jackie

The Biggest Loser This winterMatt and I have fallen in love with NBC's "The Biggest Loser." The way these people transform their bodies (and their lifestyles) in a matter of weeks it truly amazing! This week Jackie Evans, who has really impressed me with her work ethic (she is one of the older contestants and a woman, which makes weight harder to lose) was voted off of The Biggest Loser Ranch on Tuesday night. This year the theme is "couples." She came with her son Dan who has also lost a crazy amount of weight! I am kind of rooting for her to win the $100,000 for who lost the most weight while not at the ranch. She is from Illinois also which makes me like her even more. Go JACKIE!
Project Runway
Another reality T.V. addiction of mine is Project Runway on Bravo. LOVE IT! This season has been pretty awesome and after last nights elimination of Ricky, there are only 5 competitors left. Ricky, who has shed tears on the show since the beginning didn't shed a one last night as he was eliminated. I am glad he is gone. Only two more eliminations before Bryant Park!

I hope no one had these TIVO'd (sorry about that)!!!

Andy Virgil
I am a huge fan of this Illustrator. He did a lot of work in the 50's, which I LOVE! Check out more information on him here.

Poodle Love

So today is the 8th day in a row without sun. WITHOUT SUN! Jeez we aren't in London (or Costa Rica for that matter right Matt?) Who can live like that? It is quite depressing. Not only has there NOT BEEN sun but the rain and snow has seized each day, making it wet and soupy outside every dark and dreary hour. Since I have gotten my hair cut short I have had to straighten it every morning even though I have a mess of natural curls. Over the last week or so I have straightened it in the morning and after wading through the water that is our sidewalk and tracking across the parking lot to work, my hair looks like Cyndi Lauper on a mall tour. So today for the first time I embraced the curls and went "all natural" to work. There is no sense in fighting the elements once again! Now I feel slightly similar to Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing (pre-nose job and straight hair.) I guess I am just embracing the inner-poodle.

Speaking of poodles. Matt and I have decided (as soon as we are homeowners) to buy a Standard Poodle puppy. I have always loved curly haired, goofy dogs and now is the perfect opportunity (we found a breeder near St. Louis that we have been in contact with). I think it all started with Piper (Adam and Amber Lewis' Dog). My parents also have a shitzu-poodle mix and he is just awesome! Don't worry though we aren't going to cut it like a poodle. We will give it an all over cut which is MUCH cuter. Matt doesn't want a froo-froo dog and I don't blame him.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Here we come a house-hunting

I had know idea how stressful house-hunting can be!!
My head is spinning with all of the homes we have seen already and the possibilities of what else is out there. It is so hard to keep track of that I have started to keep an uncharacteristically organized binder (idea from Jannah and Derek Pollock... thanks for the GREAT IDEA guys!). At first Matt and I were after stand-alone houses. However, with our budget and the opportunities around Champaign, we have decided a townhouse or condo may be a better solution. We have a few options in the running at this point but we aren't in a huge hurry so I guess we will see what else is out there.

Casserole Party

On another note, Matt and I got to hang out with our dear friends Lance and Betsy this weekend. Betsy, Cher (one of Betsy's best friends) and I got to share time and money and made 21 casseroles! You don't even want to know how much chicken we went through. We each went home with 7 casseroles to put in the freezer and bake at any time over the next few months. In the past, casseroles were not my fave, but with both Matt and I working and time ALWAYS being an issue it is nice not to have to plan meals for a couple weeks. PLUS Matty gets to take the leftovers for lunch the next day! So far we have eaten the Chicken Tetrezini. Matt practically inhaled it. Casserole #1 = complete success!

At Last

Matt and I also got to see our friends and fellow newlyweds Amy and Brent Woodrum this weekend. It was so much fun to sit and chat (for hours) about SOO many things. Hopefully we will get to do this much more often in the future! We also traveled to Charleston on Sunday for the good ole Super Bowl at Derek and Janna's. They bought a house a few months back and this was my first viewing. It was just adorable. Kudos to the decorations and the new big screen. Despite the strange winter thunderstorm that yielded slight delays in viewing the game (where poor Tom Brady got his adorable butt chin slammed in the mud) the game and the time with Derek and Janna was great! Thanks for the invite guys. Hopefully soon we will be able to have you to our house!