Friday, December 23, 2011


This year, we're spending Christmas in Colorado with my side of the family. Last night, we were eating my brother's homemade pizza when the snow started falling. We drove around looking at Christmas lights and it kept falling. We went to sleep and it kept falling and falling and falling.

In the morning, the railing on my parents' porch looked like this:

I stuck a ruler down the middle. 10.5 inches!

I pulled out the camera and took these pictures of snowflakes and was thrilled with the results!

The snow covered trees and houses look like a postcard. Needless to say, this California girl was thrilled and went out to frolick in it three times today! I think it's going to be a white Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Deck the Halls

"Deck the Halls" is a generous title for this post considering our two bedroom apartment has but a single hall connecting the bedrooms, main room, and bathroom. But, nevertheless, a tree, stockings, and a few other knickknacks have gone up and it is looking pretty festive in here!

Since we have no fireplace, I did the next best thing by putting my aspen tree branch over our gas heather and hung the stockings off of it. That'll do.

Monday, December 12, 2011


When I moved to Los Angeles from Denver, I thought Southern California had no seasons. After seven years, I have finally learned that there are seasons here, you just have to look harder.

Michael took this picture of me a couple blocks away from the golden tree above. Pretty sweet shot, huh?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thaimerican Thanksgiving

The official day for giving thanks is almost a week past, but I've still got something to share that I am grateful for.

On Thanksgiving, I woke up weary and in need of some soul restoration. I felt burned out on school and burned out on life.

My sweet, sweet husband took on all of the Thanksgiving morning cleaning and cooking responsibilities, and I just curled up in a blanket with a cup of tea and prayed and read. Then, we spent the most wonderful afternoon and evening with my in-laws and four international students from the colleges where Michael works. All we did was eat, chat, play games, and laugh for hours.

One of the students, Catt, drinking Michael's Thai Tea with boba, all homemade! (Stay tuned for the recipe.)

The food. It was about 60% American and 40% Thai and therefore "Thaimerican." Gosh, I'm clever!

The fun.

The games.

That night, I went to bed with my stomach full and my soul restored. Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hole in the Wall Happiness

When people ask me, "What's your favorite restaurant?" I answer, "Any delicious, hole in the wall, ethnic food place."

Jesse's El Taco de Mexico fits the bill.

Yes, "Jesse's El Taco De Mexico." The restaurant name alone made me want to eat there.

Michael and I ordered burritos. The tortillas tasted and looked homemade. In fact, every part of these burritos was homemade, so I will stop using that adjective. You can just mentally insert it in front of every ingredient. The beans and rice were perfect. The meat was super flavorful. But, what made these burritos bomb was the white onion and cilantro perfectly spread throughout the burrito and the amazing avocado salsa.

Oh, and the horchata was probably the best I've ever had. Super cinnamony. Yum!

My guy double fistin' horchata and a burrito al pastor.

I'm attractive too when I eat.

Too bad this restaurant is about sixty miles from our home...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Winter Garden Tour

My favorite season in Southern California is winter. After months of smog buildup and hot, dry weather, the rains begin to fall giving Los Angeles a much needed bath. The rains mean snow-capped mountains, boots & sweaters, citrus trees dripping with oranges & lemons, and a thriving winter garden! (My fingers are crossed on that last one.)

Here's the garden! I am hoping to have a glorious, future post with a before and after picture, but we'll see how successful we are.

(A) Bell pepper bush to the right of the "A" that we haven't ripped up since summer ended. There are three or four little kale plants behind it. And a jalapeno plant in front that used to house a black widow spider!! [see picture below]
(B) More bell pepper bushes.
(C) Netting along the back fence for our snap peas to grow up.
(D) I re-purposed my tomato cages for snap peas to grow up.
(E) Lettuce that is currently lying prostrate on the dirt from the recent rains.
(F) Strawberry barrel! With a red cabbage plant in the middle! I'm excited about this one.
(G) Lettuce.
(H) Spinach.
(I) Bibb lettuce.
(J) Purple carrots. (Yes, purple!)
(K) Beets.
(L) That plastic container used to be full of Costco pretzels. Now it is full of dirt and tiny carrot and beet plants.
(M) Chinese broccoli. (completely Michael's doing)
(N) Kale.

I think our current success rate with garden is about 30-50%. So, with the about a dozen plants we have going, we'll hopefully harvest at least five fruits or veggies. Not so great, but we're learning!

And playing with the hose.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Strawberry Barrel

My friend used her charm and Spanish language skills to get me a half wine barrel from Napa for free. It is now housing a few strawberry plants!

Stay tuned for a tour of the rest of our winter garden.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Rats, a Quiche, and a two Green Tomato Cakes

In September, my big brother, my sweet sister-in-law, and a rat came to visit. 

We were sitting around, watching the cartoon bird movie "Rio," when we heard a grinding metal noise coming from behind the oven. 

Over the years, my family has had well over a dozen hamsters. When, I went into the kitchen to investigate the noise, it reminded me of the distinct sound of a hamster chewing on its metal cage bars.

Sure enough, a couple of evenings later, after my brother and sister headed back to Denver, I got home from school, ambled into the kitchen to grab something to eat, and saw a partially eaten pear in the fruit basket. As I was asking Michael why he had taken a couple of bites out of a pear without putting it in the fridge, I noticed that there was pear stem shrapnel under the fruit basket and realized that a rodent had gotten to my fruit.

For a girl who usually isn't bothered by bugs and dirt, I was surprisingly disgusted by the presence of this animal in our home.

We declared war.

We set out mouse traps with peanut butter. The rodent responded by eating more of our fruit.

So, the next night, we set out mouse traps with fruit.

As I was drifting off to sleep, I heard a snap (I feel like I am going to get sued by PETA). I sent Michael to deal with the carnage. But where we were expecting carnage, the cutest little rat (and believe me, it actually was cute) was standing next to the sprung trap looking quite dazed and confused. We somehow got it into a bucket and got rid of it.

So what does this have to do with quiche and cake? Check this out:

The animal's cousins had gotten into our tomato plants. They were eating the juicy insides of our tomatoes, leaving tomato skins and poop on our fence ledge!

We ripped out our big tomato plant. And by big I really mean, gigantic. Due to the lack of sun in our backyard, the poor tomato vines had reached and stretched to over twelve feet long in pursuit of more sunshine. No wonder rats were trying to nest in that messy tangle...

All of the tomatoes were transformed into a tomato and goat cheese quiche...

And two green tomato cakes.

Green tomato cakes are BOMB! Super moist, with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, and cream cheese frosting. It tasted like a fabulous carrot cake.

I think we shared three pieces with my in-laws and my elderly neighbor, but other than that, Michael and I baked and ate two of these cakes in two weeks. My pants got noticeably tighter. Yum yum!

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Cute, Little Cup

I really like hand-painted cups. Especially when they are painted on the inside as well as the outside. This cute, little cup that I found at Marshalls even has a little hand painting on the bottom. 

The bottom-of-the-cup painting is like a little surprise waiting for me every time I finish my tea, or my Mexican hot chocolate, or my soup, or my strawberry Jello... I have already consumed all of those from my cup!

Sometimes the simple things make me so happy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Planet Earth

I love BBC's Planet Earth!

On our weekly date night, my husband and I often work through little projects.

Some we never complete, including creating our own card game (too hard) and reading the Chronicles of Narnia out loud to each other (too boring, no offense Clive Staples Lewis).

We complete some of our little projects, like reading the Harry Potter series out load to each other and watching the entire extended Lord of the Rings trilogy and appendices. Yes, we can be quite nerdy.

Although we're five years late in discovering it, our current date night project is watching BBC's nature documentary, Planet Earth. I've never seen anything quite like it. In case you've never seen it or want to see pieces of it again, here are three stand out moments from the eleven hours of footage.

1. The neon blue and black face-like thing in this photo is a bird of paradise trying to attract the little, brown female in front of him. He looks like something out of horror movie.

2. This footage is simply stunning. (If you don't have two minutes to spare, start it at 1:20.)

3. In case the shark attack scared you, here is some absolutely adorable footage of a polar bear mama and her two cubs that should cheer you right back up. When I first saw it, I felt like my heart was going to explode with the cuteness.

There are so many jaw-dropping scenes in this documentary, including footage of animals, plants, and places that I didn't even know existed. I highly recommend buying it. (Or checking it out from your public library if you're cheap like us!)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Envy

My husband and I have a voracious appetite for books. Reading has its ritualistic spot in our daily lives: every night, before going to sleep, we grab a book from our respective piles and dig in.

Here are the two books each of us has been reading the most, can you tell whose is whose? (hint: look at the right side bar...)

The other night, I was about to dive back into Middle Earth when Michael started telling me interesting facts he had learned from his book about world religions. I found myself wanting to put down The Two Towers to read his Guide to World Religions. This happens all the time, not only to me, but also to him. We call this desire to switch over to what your spouse is reading "book envy."

I recently came down with a major case of book envy.

Although I had read Corrie ten Boom's autobiography as a child, I had forgotten most of her life story. Michael read it recently and told me incredible stories of Corrie's family providing a refuge for Jews during the Holocaust, their eventual arrest by the Nazis, and her utter devotion to God even while suffering in hellish concentration camps.

Can you believe this sweet thing risked her life to save
people who weren't her ethnicity or religion?
What an amazing, Christian woman. I want to be like her.

One simple story from Corrie's childhood has not left me even weeks later. It has subtly impacted the way I see the world.

I asked Father about a poem we had read at school the winter before. One line had described “a young man whose face was not shadowed by sexsin.” ... And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.

“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. 

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a
load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions—for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”

In the Nazi concentration camps, Corrie was continually presented with a load much too heavy for her to carry. As she witnessed the deep depravity and suffering of human beings, she continually handed this load over to her heavenly Father.

For whatever reason, God has given me a heart that is tender toward the deep suffering in the world. Therefore, I give my prayers, my money, and my career to addressing these issues. But, sometimes I can hardly stand to hear one more story of someone using their power to victimize others. I ask God, "Why?" and I get limp answers, if any answers at all.

And this is when I hear God, through the story of Corrie's father, telling me that I don't have to carry the suffering in the world. He will carry it for me. And that's where I begin to find peace.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Indian Vegetable Curry

Beautiful ingredients make delicious food.

I have been craving really good Indian food for a few months, but my favorite Indian restaurant is over 1,000 miles away in Colorado, so I decided to make this Vegetable Curry recipe that I found in my favorite cookbook ever.

Once I saw how fresh and colorful the ingredients were, I busted out my camera and went hog wild playing food photographer.

The final product was so good! I daresay it even tasted authentic. Plus, it is super healthy and the ingredients are super cheap.

Here's the recipe:

Start the rice. Do Basmati if you're going for authentic! Heat until sizzling:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
Add and cook a little bit:
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
Stir in:
  • 2 teaspoons of hot curry powder
Stir in (all of these ingredients are approximate):
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups cauliflower
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
Cover and cook until vegetables are tender. (~10 minutes) Stir together in a small bowl:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
Add to the vegetables. Cook all until heated through. Serve over rice garnished with chopped almonds.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Second to delicious, practically free food, the thing I've enjoyed most about gardening is appreciating in a new way how my food grows. Pre-gardening, I generally knew that seeds sprout into plants which produce flowers and fruits. I got that.

But, to actually watch it happen is a whole different story.

Here's one of my plants producing a beautiful, white flower. Can you tell what type of plant it is yet?

The flower dies and in its place, a fruit magically appears. (I guess I still don't understand everything.)

And the fruit grows and grows into a full-fledged bell pepper!

By the way, did you know that orange and red bell peppers are merely ripened green bell peppers? I geeked out about that once upon a time and now I'm proving it in my backyard!

The same is true with tomatoes. Here you see blurry, yellow flowers on the right, a teeny green tomato with a little flower shrapnel still attached, and larger green tomatoes to the left.

And here, flower is clinging to the very tip of the green bean that took its place.

And then there's this guy who is so cute that I don't mind the little holes he munches in my leaves.

I am so grateful for my little plot of land, and I'm so glad that we have tried our hands at gardening.

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Cookbook to Rule Them All

I am astounded and overwhelmed by the vast number of cookbooks which are available anywhere from grocery stores to hardware stores to the library. And with the prevalence of recipe websites, you can find directions for any dish in less than .2 seconds. The problem is, many of these recipes are not tried and true.

And that's where this big beauty of a cookbook comes in.

Joy of Cooking contains 4,500 recipes that have been perfected over 75 years. Everything in this book is accurate and delicious. (I sound like an ad, but believe me, no one is paying me for this!)

It contains recipes that are super easy,

fun and adventurous,

and so awesome that I will probably only ever dream about doing them.

Tapping for maple syrup.
(Just kidding! I make grilled cheese all the time and it's so easy,
I have no idea why there is a recipe for it in the book.)

So, consider starting your Christmas Wish List now and consider putting Joy of Cooking on it!
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