Friday, December 5th, 2014
First, I offer you this article all about picking the very best potatoes for your mashed side dish.
Now that you know what potatoes you need, I am going to give you a recipe for mashed potatoes that will change. your. life. I’m not kidding; I like mashed potatoes, but they wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice for how to prepare a potato. But! But! I do like them during the holidays, but I never want to eat them as leftovers. This recipe makes me want to eat mashed potatoes every day and then re-heat them the next day. They are that good.
As with all of my recipes, there are really no measurements. Just add as much of each ingredient as you feel is right. I trust your judgement.
Half and Half (whole milk or heavy cream would also probably work)
First, peel all of the potatoes, chop them up, and boil them until they are tender enough to mash. Once they are all soft and boiled, drain the water and add butter, cream cheese, and half and half. Using a blender, blend the mixture until the potatoes reach a consistency that is fluffy and smooth. Once blended, add as many fresh garlic cloves as you want (more garlic is always better-we used, like, six cloves in our batch). We used a garlic press to mince the garlic, but you could just cut it up really fine or smush it before you add it. After you add the garlic, give the potatoes a sprinkle with some sea salt and mix it up.
These truly are the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. They certainly aren’t healthy, but they will make you happy. And, really, potatoes are meant for happiness not healthiness anyway.
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
Nathan and I have been swapping a nasty head cold back and forth for the last few weeks. It has been dismal. I always used to treasure that rare sick day when I got to stay home from school. But, now that adulthood has reared its ugly head, sick days are not so preferable. A sick day just results in being behind in work and school and feeling crappy. Even though all of my sinuses are sore, my ears and throat hurt, and I am nursing a cough, there has been one thing that has consistently made me feel a little better. I’ve mixed up an elixir of sorts (which Nathan won’t drink) that seems to quell some of the dastardly head cold symptoms.
Ginger (I use the minced kind that comes in the jar)
First, boil some water. While the water is boiling, add the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, honey, and lemon to a mug. Once the water is boiled pour it over the ingredients in the mug. Give it a stir and drink up. If you are feeling like you really need an extra kick then you could definitely add some whiskey or bourbon (but only do that if you’re in for the night).
I know that there aren’t any measurements and that’s because how much you add of everything is really up to you. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. And, honestly, this does not taste bad. I promise.
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Now that the semester is almost over (and Thank God for that), I will have a little time on my hands. I would really like to use up that time by reading and cooking. With that in mind, I have been compiling my winter break reading list. It started with a lengthy trip to Barnes and Noble. Nathan and I could waste hours in bookstores. While I love brick and mortar bookstores, books are normally cheaper online. So, I present unto you my holiday reading list separated into cookbooks and all other books and all with a link to buy:
1. Thug Kitchen: The team behind this cookbook has a rad website (here), and creates plant based, vegan recipes. Their website liberally uses cuss words and verbal abuse to beat you into healthier eating. Reading their blog is such a kick, and I would really like to get my hands on the official cookbook. Buy here.
2. The Kitchn Cookbook: Also the cookbook product of a blog (here). I check The Kitchn blog every single day, and some of my most used recipes come from their archives. I am particularly excited about this one. Buy here.
3. Death and Co: Modern Classic Cocktails: Full of recipes and knowledge about every drink and alcohol you can think of, this book would make an excellent companion for the curious drinker. Buy here
1. Bread and Wine: I have heard nothing but good things about this book. I read Shauna Niequist’s blog, and her insight about relationships and hospitality is always on point. Buy here.
2. Gone Girl: Everyone is talking about it, and I just want to jump on that bandwagon. Buy here.
3. The Best Yes: A friend mentioned that this book had really impacted her; and, as someone who struggles with saying no, I think it might be a good read for me. Buy here.
Well, there they are. I think that they’ll keep me busy for most of winter break. What are some books that you’re hoping to read?
Monday, December 1st, 2014
As I sit here on my living room couch, watching my dad hang the snowflakes on the tree, (we don’t do ornaments, but our tree is a thing of beauty), and savoring my remaining precious moments at home. I’m trying to memorize the way the stairs creak when someone goes upstairs, the way the soft sounds of the TV trickle into the next room where I’m working, and the way the kitchen is bathed in buttery yellow light. This house is my home. I don’t think it will ever be easy to leave for an extended period of time. I’m thankful that I’ve had the privilege to grow up in a place like this, one filled with happy memories and boisterous laughter and blood and sweat and tears.
It might sound funny to be thankful for those things, some good, and some bad. But right now, in this season, I am working on practicing my thankfulness skills. Thanksgiving is over and the leftovers have been gobbled up. The tree is up, the lights are strung, and the garland greets visitors in the doorway. The Christmas season is beautiful. Sometimes, though, amid the pine and the presents and the people, I think that we lose our spirit of thankfulness. I know I do. It’s far too easy at this time of year to want, want, want, rather than give, give, give, let alone thank, thank, thank.
Right now though, as I sit here, in my home, preparing to go back to the daily grind of school and work, I’m working a little harder than normal to be thankful for this pattern of my world. The back and forth from home to school, and from school to home. Two places where I can be myself. Two beds to come back to at night, no matter what. Parents who love and encourage me, near and far. Siblings who both infuriate me and make me laugh. Friends here and there, each pursuing their own calling, yet managing to keep track of one another despite the hustle and bustle.
Thanks is more than a word and more than an action, it’s an attitude that stretches us to do more and say less and think harder. We certainly don’t live in a thankful world, but I want to do my best to be thankful for something, anything, every day. Little things and big things, happy things and sad things, good things and bad things; they all add something to this whatever place we call home. Let’s rejoice!
Sunday, November 30th, 2014
Today at church I was lucky enough to get to hang out with my Godbaby for the whole service. During one of the first songs she dozed off onto my shoulder, and then slept through the whole sermon. She cuddled right into my shoulder and snored for a solid half hour. I felt so lucky. It isn’t everyday that a baby will just fall asleep on you. Plus, baby snores are the best. They are so cute; it is really too much.
At one point I handed her to Nathan and he bounced her on his knee while making car noises. Her smile was contagious. And, to be honest, watching Nathan love on her just about makes my heart beat right out of my chest. She is the kind of baby that makes me feel like having babies is something I want to do someday. Nathan and I definitely don’t have plans for babies anytime soon; but, when we do, I’d like to have one just like her.
Seeing her and her mom on Sunday is one of the brightest spots of my whole week. I am sure that we probably looked a little ridiculous sneakily snapping pictures during the service, but I think we were all sort of in a baby haze. And, honestly, a little baby haze is exactly what I needed this morning. There is just something about cuddling a baby that makes everything seem right in the world. I’d recommend it.
Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
Editor’s note: Hi all, sorry this is a day late! Yesterday was a busy and rough day for Nathan and me, and I didn’t get a chance to make sure that this post went up. I scheduled it to post yesterday morning, but sometimes WordPress gets a little glitchy. -Sydney
I go to school in a small town. Smaller than small. Main Street (its actual name, by the way) is less than a mile long. There’s a coffee shop, a Chinese restaurant, a pizza place, and dozens of churches. My school sits on the outskirts. Right between broken suburbia and a town that, despite its best efforts, can’t seem to quite get its feet underneath it. Between the quant coffee shop teeming with college students getting their caffeine buzz and the churches that usher people through their wide open door every Sunday, there is a current of sadness. Of despair. A current that speaks to the fact that people are people. Sometimes it’s hard to notice. As a college student, I often forget that a world outside my own, tests, papers, friends, late-night ice cream runs, exists. People refer to it as “the bubble.” People here mean the bubble of college, but when we get right down to it, I think we all live in our own little bubble. We live in a world whose values contradict those of the gospel. Where the gospel recounts the oldest story in history, the world values all things new; new and shiny and gleaming with seemingly endless promise. Where the gospel celebrates sacrifice, the world celebrates ambition. The kind of ambition that tells you to do whatever it takes to get to the top. Where the gospel centers around community, the world says each man is in it for himself. It’s this pursuit of individuality that causes us to stumble. Where Christ is wrapping people in his loving arms, we’re pushing them away with one hand and showing them the door. In order to grow closer to the God that loves us so dearly, we must cultivate lives and habits that are driven by a deeper desire to know him. In order to get to know him and spread his word, we must get to know those around us. Christians, pagans, children, adults, people we love, people we hate… they are all created in his image and deserve an opportunity to witness Jesus’s love for them in real time.
Back in high school, I spent countless hours at one of my very best friend’s houses. Despite her being a new student, it took us virtually no time to become fast friends. Her mom’s arms seemed to always be open for a warm embrace and I smiled at the sound of dad’s southern drawl as he told stories inevitably ended with raucous laughter. I relished the times spent at their kitchen counter, balanced on a wooden stool, laughing and talking. I knew where to find the chips and dip, I knew that there would always be a jug of sweet tea in the fridge, and most of all, I knew I was always welcome. And it wasn’t only me that felt the magnetic attraction that the family had. Their reputation quickly became one of inclusiveness. It didn’t matter where you were from or what your story was, you always had a place waiting for you in that little blue clapboard house. It seemed to me, and countless others, that they never tired of welcoming people into the fold of Christ’s love.
Hospitality, as it’s called in our language, is always an easier idea in our heads than it is in our hearts. We have a grand notion that being hospitable means putting on a good face and circulating an artfully arranged platter of hours d’oeuvres. Our culture places such an emphasis on perfection that hospitality is a nearly impossible, and easily avoidable task. We’ve made it too simple to use our imperfection as an excuse to close our doors and live out our lives in quiet solitude. What we are forgetting is that our perfect God died a vicious death so that he could exist amidst our everyday messes. In fact, God wants us to invite people our less-than-perfect, disorganized, sloppy lives so we can show people how he uses imperfect beings like us to make his kingdom beautiful. So instead of worrying about what shoes we’re going to wear or what food we’re going to serve, let’s simply offer an invitation and trust that God will orchestrate the rest.
Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
[Mi-24. A Russian attack helicopter]
For this year’s Fall break we headed to see my Grandpa, and on the way home we stopped by the Pima Air and Space Museum. This museum may be Nathan’s most favorite place anywhere. It is full of old military planes, retired civilian airliners, and a big “boneyard” of airplane parts. Nathan is plane obsessed, and it makes me happy to watch him explore the museum every time we go. I also feel like I get an education each time- Nathan can rattle off facts about planes at an alarming rate.
[CH-37 transport helicopter]
[Sikorsky Sky Crane]
[B-58 Hustler (the “sexiest bomber ever” according to Nathan)]
My favorite part of the museum is in the yard where they have turned about six planes into art installations. These planes are decorated in wacky and beautiful ways, and they fascinate me every time I see them.
The museum’s website: here
More on the art installation: here
A listing of the planes at the museum: here
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Sometimes we look nice for church, and on those days I like to document it. It’s not that we look really sloppy for church all the time, we just normally go a little more casual. On this particular Sunday, our God-daughter was baptized. When my friend Meredith asked us to be God-parents, I was totally overwhelmed (in a good way). It has been such a joy to know little Ioanna and to watch her grow. She gets bigger every single week.
It has also been fun to watch Nathan interact with her. He isn’t real big on babies, unless they are our nephews. But he is so great with Ioanna. He smiles at her and laughs and she gives him the biggest smiles. It is the cutest. He’ll be such a great Dad some day.
Monday, November 3rd, 2014
College is the foundation for any identity crisis. At least, that’s what I would argue. Here I am, in a new place, with new people, and no idea what I want to do. I mean, to be fair, I do have a vague idea of what I would like my life to look life after these four years are over, but beyond those wispy ideas knocking around my head, it’s a time characterized by a lot of uncertainty. I ask myself a lot of questions; questions about who I am and what I want to be doing and what I should be doing and did I eat enough vegetables on Tuesday. Besides creating a lot of awkward situations in which it appears I am talking to myself, all of my relentless questioning creates a lot of pressure. It’s self-made pressure, for sure. There’s no beating around it. It would certainly be easier if I could shrug the responsibility or the blame off to someone else, someone else who has got their life together and actually knows what they are doing beyond 5PM. But the truth is, we are notoriously our hardest critics.
I’ve always been extremely tightly wound. A classic type-A person. It manifests itself in different ways. In my obsession with tradition, my distinct distaste for change, and my inability to sleep in an un-made bed. It’s certainly served me well over the years to be detail-oriented and extremely organized. (I was still picked last for kickball, but hey, we can’t all be good at everything…) Most often, however, it rears its ugly head in the form of crippling stress. Stress that causes endless tears and headaches and sleepless nights. Stress that makes even the simplest of tasks seem insurmountable.
I had three tests this week and in a slightly un-characteristic turn of events, I found myself remarkably un-stressed for the first time in a long time. At first, it was marvelous. All, “Wow, look at me! Way to go! I’ve got this!” And then, of course, as was to be expected, I freaked. The kind of freak that starts with some shallow panicky breaths and ends with lots of back rubs and hiccup-y tears. I was so frustrated with myself. Frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy life in the moment. Frustrated that I had three tests. Frustrated that no matter how hard I tried, stress always seemed to win me over.
It was over breakfast with someone older, someone wiser, that I realized the real root of my problem. Here I was, sitting across from someone whose hair hadn’t been washed in a few days, who was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and who was a little behind on her reading. But what struck me was her joy. She found a profound sense of joy in being who she was and enjoying it. She didn’t spend her time comparing herself to other people or trying to measure up to the standards of the world. She was happy to be herself. I found myself, at the age of nineteen, feeling a little bit like someone had punched me in the gut. It’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to oversleep and make mistakes and not wash your hair for three days. We are all imperfect children of a perfect king. That means we get to own it.
Friday, October 31st, 2014
Happy Halloween! Are you doing anything fun? Nathan and I are heading to a friend’s house to hand out candy and watch movies. Kids aren’t allowed to trick-or-treat at our apartment complex. I was feeling pretty bummed about not being able to hand out candy, so I’m looking forward being able to throw candy into trick-or-treat bags.
I hope that your night is fun, safe, and candy filled. I am fully prepared to mini candy bar myself into a sugar coma.