Monthly Archives: January 2011

LIFE and taxes

This is one of those rare weekends where you get a lot of rest and peace/quiet in, but also a lot of accomplishment. You might be disappointed slightly to discover that my accomplishment list includes taking out some garbage and buying tuna and grenadine, but I also started working on taxes (I am hoping that it is as simple as it seems…pretty much, if I don’t understand the questions it’s asking me, I leave it blank), reorganized the world’s largest closet (seriously, it is)

Ok, Levens doesn't play in Green Bay, but "his" jersey is hanging right above the Christmas tree I have room for in my closet. No garage storage necessary...

Withhold judgment, the first step is putting clothes in order, then sorting and weeding can occur 🙂

I also managed to clean the kitchen pretty well. I’m proud of myself for really not letting it get bad…counters, sink and floor get cleaned weekly.

Last weekend I made some placemats (I may have mentioned this), and have been pretty pleased with their presence, although they match the fabrics I have used as “art” on my walls. If that’s a decorating sin, I’ll be sure to change the fabrics in the picture frames if I ever move to another place. Or I’ll just put them in separate rooms. I took some pictures of the placemats and have them to share here, too.

I love the patterned fabrics in this one.

This one's my favorite. It's now in the living room.

All 4 placemats had a 7" panel...and then different combos making the width 19" total. I had some fun with the math.

Let's pretend it's dinner time...I like how the plates coordinate :). Thanks K!

My afternoon adventure was actually taking a walk in Indianola. It’s taking adjustment to live here, I’ll admit, but as I am feeling less of a transplant I thought a walk would be nice (and it was warm enough to just wear a Kalorimetry from KJ and a fleece jacket)…I took the bike path, and it sadly includes the awe-inspiring scenery of old industrial type buildings. I saw more of Indianola’s past than I had ever seen before. I hope to take the trail’s offshoot to Carlisle at some point (I can then say what up to the septuplets, right? 🙂 ), and the trail that goes farther east from where I got on. It will be a place to explore once the weather warms up and I start couch to 5k again (miss that). I ended up walking to HyVee where I roamed up and down aisles looking for earlier mentioned grenadine. It was in the liquor area, as I was beginning to suspect, but I confirmed it by asking one of the helpful smile people. I bought the 50 cent club soda to make a Shirley Temple with…but I think you’re supposed to use sprite or something more sweetened. Don’t get me wrong, the not-so-sweet version was lovely, but it wasn’t quite what I remembered tasting.

The LIFE part of my subject is that I’ve been really encouraged lately. Call it a fruit of being more consistent in prayer and study, or part of some Bible fellowship with local ladies, but it’s huge. Last weekend had a huge role in that, followed by Perspectives on Monday. I think I’m coming to be more comfortable in my work (whew), even though I acknowledge a big room-for-growth gap, and I’m starting to become an interesting adult. Isn’t that a lovely self-absorbed description of myself? Seriously though, I am understanding Paul:

[11] When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV)

It’s gradual, but it’s coming.

Now I’m looking forward to dinner with my dad, and in the meantime, a bit of sorting through January receipts…:)

Peace to you!

potential and hope

I’ve been down in the church dumps lately, but had a really refreshing weekend (and possibly leading up to it, too) that have encouraged me to be delighting more in God than my involvement or satisfaction in a group of people.  The following is a break down of this idea and its formulation.

I’ve made community my idol
This is a gross (gross like eww, more than gross like big…though I suppose it fits both ways) thing to realize. I might have noticed signs of it when my connection group started to wane (we had some folks move during the summer) and my attitude waned with it, and then waxed as more consistent study and fellowship happened in the fall.  I never imagined, when I first visited Cornerstone in the summer of 2008 and spring of 2009 that I would feel at home there.  I reveled in my anonymity, in fact. Now I understand that a lot of the lessons God has taught me in the past year or so has been a direct result of the people He has put into my smaller circle.  I love that the community model at that church is one of discipleship and accountability, prayer and service.  That’s sweet.  But I let the conversations and the meals kind of do a kling-on thing when I moved to Indianola and found that my expectation was for the same thing.

I should note that none of my overarching conclusions are argued with pure consistency. I came here knowing that friendships and fun take time to build. I also have realized God’s deliberate use of this season to refine my stubborn heart at various points, but still haven’t come to total terms with that.  That’s where the hope and potential of my subject come in.

Missionary as an adjective
Or is it an adverb? The speaker at Perspectives (des moines, holla) tonight, who really surprised me with his teaching ability, described “missionary” as taking on a more descriptive definition than its usual noun-age. It’s not new, I know…I’ve probably even written about it here somewhere…but I’m getting a flavor of what missionary living in Indianola might entail. While I haven’t found a place to serve and minister with yet, I’ve met people to serve and minister to/with. I went to a church in Waukee that was super (Westwind), but ministering to Waukee/West Des Moinesians should be secondary to my more local sphere of influence.

I have ulterior motives as a Christian
These are clearly prominent in my walk because I’m ashamed to admit some of them.  I’ll add a note that in the same Perspectives lesson tonight, Brett Gibson spoke about being believers and being followers of Jesus Christ, evangelism versus making disciples (which requires being a disciple first and forever).  He emphasized participating in God’s mission in the right way, certainly not under compulsion (though he added that discomfort is not the same).
What’s stupid about these ulterior motives is that they surface apart from my “spiritual activity”–in my life-living stuff.  I read about how to work for the Lord, and then I don’t do it.  Not hugely rebelliously (I’m not leaving classes unattended or playing shallow popular music on the radio and calling it relevant), but there wasn’t a qualifier in Colossians 3.  Work as if for the Lord most of the time.  Work as if for the Lord, especially when your boss is watching. Work as if for the Lord right after this…. I put expectations on my own pathetic faithfulness and on God because of that pathetic faithfulness of “my own”.  I was just reading in 1 Corinthians 4 today that we have nothing to boast about that we did not receive.  Faithfulness included.  Ha.  Busted.

It’s a small world, and not actually that uncomfortable
I confess, I haven’t expected to be at ease in the churches I’ve visited.  Partially because being the new person kind of stinks…yes, you’re welcomed heartily (that’s awesome), but in the process you’re kind of enveloped into what’s going on right now (because you’ve been so heavily invested for 20 minutes…?), and between telling versions of your life story to interested parties you are introduced to all the rest who aren’t in that category. But these awkward getting-to-know-you moments reveal a  lot about the incredible connections the body of  Christ has globally. It also means I am in need of a softer heart when voicing my opinion. I am not so anonymous, as it would seem. Maybe growing up means getting better at speaking in front of and with people. Or maybe the anxiety has been taken away.

I have a discipler that I was required to meet with while working (best job requirement of all time, by the way) at camp, and it has been so great, even months after working there. Knowing that we need to be disciples lifelong (we cannot know God fully on earth…), er, being reminded of that tonight, reminded me that a big part of my own disciple-making task is being a committed follower of Christ, looking to align my life with the teaching of Christ as one who has been extended salvation by grace (at the great cost of His life). I’m pumped to have her help and prayer.

Dancing is not a crime
I borrowed that from a footloose song (I think?). I’ve been really, really craving it. It has nothing to do with my subject, except that I’ve been trying to add it into my lesson plans. And it’s wildly popular. Score. I get to dance at school with kids. Of course, as a teacher I have the legitimate concern of do-see-do technique not including shooting your partner across the room with the elbow grip and fling method, but they’re moving and LAUGHING in my class, and I am too.  Suh-weet.

Friends are here
I sort of expected the same group of friends I had in Ames to emerge here, and while a similar one might still happen, I’m realizing that there are friends here that I have. We don’t hang out as regularly, or in as large and mixed groups, but it’s quality. And I like that.

It’s late…and so to bed.  Peace to you!

stuff and things

I took nyquil last night for the first time.  Pretty sure I didn’t sleep any better (I’ve got a cold and its accompanying sleep interruptions), so my hope is that regardless of taking medicine or not tonight I’ll be able to collapse into much needed sleep.

Google moved its “reader” link in gmail and replaced with “photos”.  Punks.  That is was one of my favorite links.

I’m going to a bible study.  I’ve been waiting since sometime in Nov/early Dec for this.

I sang a song called “Father Grumble” today (it’s about an old guy who complains that he does more work than his wife…and they switch for a day before he concludes that his wife does in one day what he can do in seven).  I had a captive audience.  Captive audiences win teacher’s hearts, just saying.

Some of my older students actually took what they learned about the keyboard and did it at home, and then told me about it.  Can you say v-i-c-t-o-r-y? I’m happy to report it took place among piano students and non-piano students.

I regrettably forgot the main idea of this subject line and post, but I’ll save it in the event of remembering and editing later.  peace!

I’ve Got a Bone To Pick

Call me a food critic, I’m writing between mouthfuls of my dinner.

The menu:  “easy” salmon chowder (adapted from a made-for-convenience recipe that called for some things I don’t have)

Whoa.  I bought salmon in a can a while ago anticipating this meal. I remember being heartily impressed with myself for buying the Great Value brand at WalMart because the economy was so much better than the name brands.  Was I ever shocked to discover, upon opening of the can, 2 hunks of salmon, with skin.  As I went to “flake” as the recipe called for, I discovered every. single. bone. still embedded in the fish.  When I worked on the bigger hunk, it had a back bone.

Tragically, having a bit of a fish-bone phobia (love you, Karen), I think I ended up with more waste than I ought to have with a can of fish.  The ordeal prompted me to “google” it, where I found out a lot of canned salmon has skin and bones.  Some do not.  I’ll buy that kind if ever again.

Apart from the bone-induced nausea, upon cooking and tasting, it’s not a bad flavored soup.  I have to keep telling myself I’m not choking on bones that escaped my narrow inspection, but I think I’ll make it.

So, lesson learned:  take great care in selecting canned salmon.

Everyone, around the world

I went to a workshop today entitled: No Child Left on His or Her Behind. It was a dance workshop, meant to enhance music education practices (with the incorporation of more dancing). I really enjoyed it.

I hadn’t ever really danced before last year when I started going ballroom dancing and taking Zumba at about the same time (so it’s been a year). There aren’t really venues for dancing that I’m aware of here (undoubtedly there are some classes that are advertised as “singles or couples welcome”, but are they really?)…and I’d hate to go if not among friends.

What encouraged me about the dances we learned today was that they weren’t strictly “girly”, which is kind of the reaction I’ve gotten for movement activities I’ve taken from some of the curriculum choices at my school. We did a couple really cool line dances (one was South African), some stick dancing from North India (they apparently did it to disco in the 70s, so we did one to the song that contains the subject as lyrics), a Chinese rock, paper, scissors game, and a surprisingly fun West African improvisation game. There was a circle dance we did to a Flemish trio’s popular hit (it’s called T’ Smitia or something like that, meaning the blacksmith) that was so fun I wanted to teach friends so we could dance it. I even had fun in the Virginia Reel.

Wouldn’t it be neat if dancing made a comeback in all communities? Even small, south-central Iowan towns? I’d be a fan.

memo this

I got a call from work today asking if I knew that snow days simply displace the cycle-day to the next day.  That was a definite no, which meant that I wasn’t at school early on the day I was supposed to be there early.  Isn’t a painful (well, not that painful, but I felt bad) mistake the best teacher?  I won’t make that mistake again…and I’m writing it here just in case I do!  Another negative side effect is my lesson plan book needs to be re-numbered again.  I guess there’s no advantage to figuring out which cycle day March 30th is until planning for that day.  I bring this up because this is the third time I’ve renumbered this semester.  I’m just erasing nowadays…filling numbers in later.  The paper is of decent quality, but you can only rub so much away before it gets wrinkly and untidy.

I made potato bread yesterday that really turned out.  If it wasn’t so involved (messy…stages…dishes), I’d make it more often.  Delightful.  I had the great pleasure of sharing it with someone, too.  I can’t eat a whole loaf alone before it goes stale/moldy, so dividing the glob of dough into two globs loaves is a good strategy.

Unfortunately in my haste to get to school I didn’t bother to cut the remainder of the loaf of bread I kept for myself…so I ate it with my lunch.  All gone…something else for dinner!

Peace to you,


it’s a [plastic w]rap

I am making vegetable beef soup in celebration of my first ever snowday in my paid teaching career.  I had snowdays last year, I had them student teaching, I even had them in college…they aren’t the new concept.  Back to the soup; I’m testing out the crock pot I borrowed from home (thanks!) that dates back to ’82–making sure it doesn’t burn up the apartment or fail to cook.  This crock pot was not used much, as our family’s other crock pot was preferred.   I put in some frozen hamburger for the soup (it’s my only beef…at least its 93/7) and was surprised, an hour later, to find the beef in its perfect round shape.

I should interrupt myself to let you know that the beef is from one of those 10 pound logs that you get at Fareway for a sale price, cut into ten 1-pound (ish) units.  I had forgotten that we kept the plastic casing on that section of log when we put them into freezer bags.

Fortunately, not much cooking had happened in an hour, but I was able to retrieve the plastic wrap (not overly hot).  It smells a bit like beef in here now, so that’s fun.


Snow days are fun days; I hope to enjoy it.  Amazing how short the week becomes when you have a Tuesday off.  Cheers to that!

Now to do something with all the podcasts I downloaded…

glee (minus the showchoir)

I made a sponge cake yesterday in my new bundt pan, using a new set of hand mixers.




The texture is SO much better than the one I made by hand a year ago at camp, and the shape is ADORABLE thanks to the pan.  Tragically, the cake broke on its tip out of the pan (perhaps should wait more than the recommended 10 minutes?), but it’s awesome tasting, awesome looking, and goes with tea perfectly.

Another item of glee is going to work for the morning and getting a ton done.  I’m not much of a work-on-the-weekend fan, but I have some flex hours to log before the end of the year (more specifically June 5th).  I spent 4 action packed hours basically getting my third grade unit set up for the next umpteen weeks.  YES.

Another delight is a new bottle of honey.  Get this:  it comes out of the bottle (it’s stored on its cap).  I’m pumped.

The quiet apartment is more enjoyable today than it has been.  My week consisted of getting home and basically camping out on the couch (sometimes later than others because cooking dinner took so long), so I wasn’t looking forward to this one without plans, but I’m taking encouragement where I can get it.  I am 5 chapters into Persuasion (I’m not sure that I’ve ever read it before; in fact, I’m thinking I haven’t), thanks to some reading out loud and some listening to a recording from librivox on iTunes (my voice was tired).  I came to the realization yesterday (while video chattin’ with my seestah) that it’s been 2 months of living in ‘nola.  I wish I could say those 2 months included enough church visiting to start making a decision, but I’ve only been to two (and back to Ames for the bulk of those weekends, considering the holidays and some festival/workshop stuff fell in between then and now).

P&P, A&E version.  Enough said.

Peace to you, and if it actually snows in southern Iowa (pretty sure it doesn’t…we keep getting dustings), perhaps I’ll experience some white wonderment to top off a gleeful weekend. 🙂


Aww, Legumes.

I love Indian food.  K and I had some tikka masala sauce from a jar with Trader Joe’s frozen Naan and some garbanzo beans (which are 40 cents less at Wal-Mart, by the way), and I decided to venture into curry.  I looked up the recipe for Rachel Ray’s “Chicken Curry in a Hurry” (Karen’s recommendation), as well as a spicy peanut chicken recipe she’d also recommended.


I had a lovely little note to myself with ingredients to find at the store, but it didn’t make it to the store with me…so I wandered up and down the aisles of WalMart and Hy-Vee looking for foreign objects like curry paste, chili paste, and toasted sesame seed oil.  And the faulty memory of the list that actually called for unsalted, dry roasted peanuts.  I did find fresh ginger (half the price at WalMart than HyVee…shocking), regular sesame seed oil, salted spanish peanuts (whoops!) and some small spice containers (turmeric, coriander, hot chili powder.) that I imagined would be sufficient for making a curry.   I was disappointed to not find any Indian food (even convenience products) in the aisles.  Thai curry existed in two forms (a red paste and a green paste), but that was all.


The recipe was probably better than I was…I added 4 times the amount of chicken broth required and made “yellow” rice (turmeric) a bit more yellow than necessary for a sort of Thai dish.  Additionally, the recipe for chili paste I found was sorely disappointing…it clumped in the sauce I cooked, making hard chunks that resembled (at least in my mind’s eye) liver.  My accident in buying Spanish peanuts resulted in me taking the skinish coating off by hand…not fun.  It was a salty dish, and a lot of work (mincing stuff with my new knives was pretty easy, thank goodness!), with minimal leftovers.  I might not make it again…perhaps if my grocery store peeps follow through with carrying some of the things I couldn’t find…


Anyway, if you know where in Iowa I can buy Indian fare (Trader Joe’s of course) to make at home, would you let me know?  I’m really hopeful to make curry a regular meal.


Until next time…Peace!