Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beautiful Imperfections

Surgery was unable to remove the entire rathke's cleft cyst that grew on my pituitary gland five and half years ago, so every six months I get an MRI to monitor its growth.  This medical routine is now a part of life.  The check-up interrupts the flow of things, very rudely at times, but it has to happen.  
While sitting in the doctors office yesterday, Randy and I were visiting with my doctor and he informed us that the cyst had only slightly grown.  This has been the typical report for some time now and it is a relief to know that not much has changed.   Now, due to its slow growth I won't have to get another MRI for an entire year.  Hooray!  Great news!  
The conversation doesn't end there though.  Then he begins to talk options: radiation of some type to remove the growth, this is a way to get it out of my brain without having surgery again, there would be side effects. 
Without much thought, my answer was simply no, not interested.  This cyst does not affect my day to day.  It has actually made me stronger.  My doctor whole heartdly supported this decision.  Why mess with something that is not negatively affecting you?  Off Randy and I go to celebrate with a tasty treat at Sonic.
It is also a post check-up routine for Randy and I to talk in depth about God's purpose and why he has us go through this particular trial.  It is always positive and it reassures us of God's faithfulness and grace.  During this talk Randy brought something to my attention.
"I thought is was interesting that Dr. M brought up wanting to have perfection in life."
I barely remembered this part of the doctor visit.  I would not have even thought twice about it if Randy had not mentioned it.  Now, I can't shake it.
Perfection.  We all seek perfection.  For my doctor, perfection is to have a patient completely cleared of an ailment that should have been removed five and a half years ago.  Perfection for me is to be cyst free and MRI free. 
I remember post surgery looking around at people my age, wishing that their easy carefree life could be mine.  I was a newlywed, shouldn't I be in a blissful state, not worrying about what was next?   How I longed for perfect, the perfect I could not have.
My doctor offered me my "perfect" through radiation and I said no.  Quickly, without hesitation.  Why you ask?  I could have the cyst gone forever.  My perfect would come at a physcial cost, one I am not willing to risk. Yes, it could be gone, but there is no guarentee that it would be forever.   Life will always produce imperfections that will abrutply interupt some type of perfection.  But who are you to say that that imperfection itself is not truly what your perfect needs to be?  It is through Him we are made perfect.
I am content, joyful and hopeful.  God has given me a beautiful imperfection.  One that I have accepted.  One that allows me to tell of His healing and faithful hand.  If in the future the cyst needs to go, He will guide me and let me know when and how.  Whatever the circumstance I accept it because He has approved it. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Martha, Martha

Every once and awhile I get a creative burst.  I owe this to excessive caffeine, an inspiration or both.  Recently I have seen several close friends decorate for fall.  I have never decorated for fall but after seeing small touches of browns and oranges throughout homes I started to think my house was in need of festivity.  It wasn't until I started to browse Martha Stewart's website ,  that I became truly inspired. 
Off to Hobby Lobby Katherine and I went!  I had a vision in mind and I could not wait.  Well, after browsing the store and calculating in my mathfobia brain what it would cost to make a Martha wreath, I opted for a Rebecca wreath. 
As I'm writing I gaze into my living room and look upon my fireplace and homemade fall wreath.  I can't help but feel some pride bubbles in my heart .  Unfortunately, this dose of fall now makes me want to decorate for Christmas....in October.  "Oh brother."

Martha's wreath that I intended to make

The "O brother" eyeroll

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Shoe Fits!

I haven't bought a pair of black heels since 2005.  What you ask?  Let me rephrase that statement.  I haven't bought a pair of black heels, that weren't for work, since 2005.  Yes, yes I remember it fondly.  A pair of black stilettos.  A graduation present for me, from me.  They cost far more than I ever intended on spending, but they called my name and all I could say was "hello, you are mine."  It was magic and I will never forget the moment I said yes to the stilettos. 
I wore these special shoes recently to a "gala" and when I put them on I felt like I was wearing a pair of senior citizens.  Still in good condition with several more years left to live, but just not the talk of the town any more. 
Last year around this time Randy informed me of an online shoe clearance.  The shoes were more than 50% off and for some reason, I did not choose to shoe shop.  Why not you ask?  I do not know. This is very strange, because if you know me, you know that at any opportunity I can buy "something" I probably will.  (yes, character flaw, I know...I'm working on it) I regretted my decision the moment I saw packages being delivered for Randy. 
Oh, glorious shoes.  All shiny and smelling like "new." 
This past week the yearly clear-out happened again.  You better believe I hoped on this opportunity.  Shoes, shoes, shoes.  What color?  What style?  I felt like my possibilities were endless.  Alas, when narrowing the search down to my 6 1/2 size foot I was limit.  Ugh.  However, I still managed to find two perfectly fun shoes that more than likely I will wear occasionally.  Oh well, a girl needs a pair or two (or three or four or five?) of fun shoes in her closet to brighten every opening of its door.
When will the little black sparkly (I know, the shoe sparkles!) shoe make its debut?  Next Saturday.  I cannot wait. 
Not over the top and special, but these shoes sparkle and that makes me happy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Katherine Livia

Katherine is one year old. 
What a wonderful year of firsts.  Smiles, laughs, teeth...the list is endless. 
The joy and love I have felt as a parent really cannot be described with words.  It's a feeling, deep inside my inner being, that lightens up every time I think about her, smell her or even hear her.   Katherine, just her existence, has made our lives more complete.  Her chubby legs, sweet dimple and gurgling words have been an added bonus. 
Last weekend we celebrated this little lady and her beautiful boisterous spirit.  Before the party, my sister expressed to me that the first birthday is special because not only is it a celebration for the baby but also it is a celebration and a right of passage for the mother.  I agree with her. 
The first birthday is a day to look back upon the multitude of events that had just occurred and then..breath.  On her birthday it seemed as if the past twenty-one months of carrying a child, delivering a child, nourishing a child rushed through my mind, body and soul.  What a beautiful overwhelming emotional ride.  I will hold on to it all my life.
Katherine is one year old.  I have no tears and sadness, only treasured, lovely memories of the first year of our little lady, Katherine. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Monica Closet

I pride myself on home organization, sometimes even to a fault.  However, there are three areas of my home that off-set some of this hyper-organization: the kitchen desk drawer, the guest bedroom closet, the top right dresser drawer. These are my Monica Closets (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=monica%20closet).
Today was chosen to be the first ever Kitchen Desk Drawer Clean-Out Day.  What prompted me to do this?  Since Katherine recently turned one (that's another post in itself) my kitchen needed  to be rearranged.  Goodbye bottles!  In my excited state to get rid of all things bottle I also targeted all unnecessary items in the desk drawer.
This drawer has been haunting me since the day we moved into the White House two years ago.  It has become a black hole for all things miscellaneous.  I realized this even more as I was cleaning it out today.  What did I find? 
35 pictures of Katherine
6 pairs of scissors
24 manuals
2 cigars
1 phone
11 keys
3 rubber bands
1 sticky wine opener (gak!)
25 cents
39 receipts
2 greeting cards
1 piece of granite
3 safety pins
1 tape measure
4 packages of post it notes
Fellow junk drawer friends let this be an encouragement to you!  Your junk drawer (closet, bedroom, cabinet) can also no longer exist.  Take back the space and claim it as your own!



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Month to Celebrate

This past week I asked my Granny if she would have ever thought, while celebrating her birthday throughout her life, that one day she would be sharing her birthday month with three of her great-granddaughters.  Her answer was "never in my imagination" and the the conversation moved forward. 
It got me thinking.  What does God have planned for me and what areas of my life do I know, deep down inside, will happen. 
Since we are in the month of August (named after my favorite Roman emperor, Augustus) it's only right that two of the things I have had gut feelings about actually turned out. 

Marrying Randy White
Randy and I met at Yukon High School in 1998 and started dating that year.  Our high school romance did have an end at the start of our freshman year in college, but there was something about "us" I couldn't shake.  Randy was the one and it wasn't until four years later that God reintroduced us.   
Katherine Livia
In 2010 God blessed Randy and me with Katherine making her the 7th girl in my family.  Girls 7, Boys 0.  Before Randy and I found out Katherine was a girl I would say how I thought our baby would be a boy.  I wanted so badly to be the "chosen one."  I wanted to give my family the long awaited son. Alas, my mouth spoke contrary to my heart, I knew I was carrying a girl.

So here it is, the month of August.  A historical month, where my prophetic (or not) instinct has led me to two of the best days of my life.  Five birthday parties and two wedding anniversaries to go, I can't wait.

The history of August

Things we like to do in August

Randy grilling green chilies the night before Katherine was born

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

12 Hour Road Trip = Bliss

Over the course of my 29 years I have gone on several vacations.  I will categorize them two ways : busy or relaxing.  About a month ago Randy and I took a relaxing vacation, just the two of us.  Bliss.

Hello, vacation.

Yes. I will stay here forever.

Sand dollar and sea urchine

Cooling off during our jet-ski adventure in the bay.

St. Louis Cathedral

Cafe du Monde...need I say more?

An overnight stay in New Orleans

Visiting the U.S.S Alabama in Mobile en route to Panama City.

Captain Randy

It's not a vacation until I snap a picture of Randy eating an ice cream cone.

In the bay

Friday, July 8, 2011

To hummus, or not to hummus?

*Note: technically this post should fall under the His and Hers...stories about our food page, but the recipes are so delicious I had to post on the big page.*

Alright, alright the title is a little misleading.  I will always choose to hummus.  It's healthy, delicious and tastes like the Mediterranean.  It's also a light snack that is filling and perfect for summer.   I have two hummus recipes that are deliciouss and authentic.  One comes from a former student whose mother is from Syria (I will call this hummus A) and another comes from my dear friend Abi (see previous blog) and one of her Middle Eastern friends (I will call this hummus B).  Since 2006 I have used the hummus A recipe but a recent trip to Tulsa has left hummus B lingering on my tastebuds. 
I was suppose to make hummus B for Randy this week, unfortunately I chose note to hummus.  So if I post a blog about making hummus I might be more inclined to actually make it for him because I'll feel bad if I don't. 
 Here's to you, Randy White!  I hope this makes it to your plate soon.

Hummus A
1 pound of chickpeas (which is one 16 oz canned of chickpeas, drained)
1 cup of tahini
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of salt (or more for taste)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup of lowfat plain yogurt (I use whole milk Greek yogurt)

1.  In a food processor, first put in the chickpeas and then tahini paste
2.  Next, add the lemon juice, yogurt and salt
3.  Then at the end add the garlic
4.  Taste and adjust all flavors.

Serve with warm pita bread, chips or fresh veggies like red peppers

Hummus B
Add the following to the food processor:

1 16oz can chickpeas (drained and well-rinsed)
1/4 cup tahini
2 large garlic cloves
5 TBSP fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Turn food processor on and slowly add 1/4 cup of warm water as it all blends together. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

One Bright Star

The world will be a brighter place in about four weeks when William Spencer makes his debut.  In June we celebrated his pending arrival with an intimate luncheon in Edmond.  The mama to be was glowing with excitement and pride.  What a wonderful moment in life!
This little one is already special to me because of his mama, Abi Spencer.  Abi is one of the brightest stars in my life.  She knows how to be a friend.  She loves, she cares, she encourages and she prays.  
Abi and I met freshman year in college.  We joined the same sorority and had a chance class together...Into to Jazz Dance...and let me tell you we both rocked that course.  Practicing our newly learned (but obviously mastered) dance skills in the Great Room at the Gamma Phi house has to be one of my favorite memories.  But that was just the beginning of our friendship.  We've been roommates, European travel buddies, bridesmaids...the list goes on.  Abi has also been a prayer warrior for me.  Through the ups and downs of medical issues, Abi has fought battles for me through prayer and my gratefulness abounds. 
God enriched my life when he gave me my friend Abi.
So it was a joy to shower my friend as she ends her pregnancy journey to begin her mama journey.  What a lucky little man Liam will be because he will have a mom (and dad) who will raise him in the love and light of the Lord.  
Abi and her beautiful mother, Cheryl

A few of the party goers

Our little luncheon table

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Sistine Ceiling?

I want my last meal on this earth to be homemade, fresh pasta.  I know it's a bold statement.  There's so much more to choose from and so much more food that I don't know exists.  However, given the choice today, I would want pasta...preferably with a tasty rich bolognese sauce.
Two years ago I purchased a pasta maker attachment for my stand mixer.  I had visions of glorious noodles made for evenings dedicated to Italy.  This dream has not quite developed.  The first time I made pasta I found out I was pregnant...since then it's been used sparingly.  Don't worry it's small amounts of usage has not limited my blabbering of how I can make pasta.  My dad called my bluff and for the past year has been asking me to make him ravioli.  
"Sure! Come down to Dallas and I'll whip you up the best ravioli you've ever eaten."  
My dad visits...no pasta...
"I promise.  This time you'll get pasta."
We got take-out instead.  Oops!
"Okay, come down to Dallas this time and you'll get your ravioli."
After a year of promises I finally followed through.
I've read two books about Michelangelo.  What an interesting individual of the past.  Inspired and angry this man carved his way into world wonderment.  He believed that his statues lived within the marble and it was his job to release them.  When working on a project he would get so angry with it that he wanted to destroy it or just walk away.  Something that many artists feel.
Well I felt like Michelangelo while making my ravioli.  Over the course of four hours of making the dough, letting it rest, cutting the noodles and making the sauces there were a series of highs and lows  that left me at times wanting to smash the unformed ravioli against the wall and simply walk away. 
I won't go into the details about the chaos that turned into my kitchen while I was making dinner that evening. I knew there was a delicious meal waiting to be produced from the glob of dough that rested on my counter.  All it needed was me and my ability.  I pressed on.
What I made wasn't pretty.  It was quite ugly.  However I was beaming by 8 pm when dinner was served.  I had, for the first time, made homemade ravioli with two fillings served alongside bolognese and fresh fettuccine.  The basil from my garden even made an appearance with mozzarella and tomatoes. 
Art on a plate and I ate it up.
The White House kitchen post dinner

The dinner.  The ravioli is between the salad and the bread...not very pretty.

Dad and mom, two of the four lucky recipients of dinner.
Michelangelo and the Popes Ceiling 

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Friday, June 10, 2011

Baby Feet

Growing up my middle sister, Mindy, would never let me touch her with my feet.  She thought they were gross.  She would inform me on multiple occasions, especially when my feet would find her leg or occasionally her head, she only liked three peoples feet: hers, our mom's and our baby cousin Geoffrey's.  I can only assume that if asked today Geoffrey's feet would no longer be on the list since he is 17 now and runs cross country.
Feet have never really bothered me or grabbed my attention.  The only ones I was very aware of and didn't like would belong to my dad (sorry!) and lets be honest, who of us really like our dad's feet?
Today, while feeding Katherine I found myself just looking at her tiny toes and beautiful feet.  I quickly grabbed my camera because she was doing what she normally does while eating:
My heart flutters every time I see her do this.  It's one of those endearing baby behaviors that just makes your soul swell and heart melt.  I love everything about her, but today is feet and toe day.  I want to kiss every single one of them, tickle them and play "this little piggy" over and over again. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bless this House

For Grampy Max
September 4, 1920 to May 31, 2011

Growing up I saw my grandparents at least once a week.  Their home was the meeting place for our family and where hundreds of memories were formed.  Roses, swing sets, Monopoly and popcorn...the smell of a cooking pot roast and the taste of peppermints wander through my mind.  Their home was the perfect place for a child's imagination to flourish.  From the big linen closet to Grampy Max's office there was somewhere always to play.  Music was also central to Granny and Grampy's house.  Lawrence Welk was the evening entertainment and you frequently heard Grampy playing the organ and singing a tune.  The front door and hallway was an especially important part of their home.  On the back of the front door was a music box that when wound would play "Bless this House".  How we begged Granny to wind up the music box so we could all dance! As a child and adolescent I did not really inquire about the lyrics behind this 20th century hymn.  However over the past 10 years I have become acquainted with the words of this song. 
How fitting that my beloved grandparents had this song at their front door.  What a precious prayer of protection and blessing for all who step through their threshold.  The hymn reflects the heart and prayer of these two precious souls.  Our family, because of them, have received an inheritance of love, peace and joy centered in Christ.  Thank you Granny and Grampy for your heart and prayers.  It is my prayer to pass down to my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren the legacy of your home and lives.

Bless this house, O Lord we pray,
Make it safe by night and day . . .
Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out . . .
Bless the roof and chimneys tall,
Let thy peace lie overall . . .
Bless this door that it may prove,
Ever open,
To joy and love . . .
Bless these windows shining bright,
Letting in God's Heavenly light,
Bless the hearth, the painting there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer!
Bless the folk who dwell within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .
Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with thee . . .
Bless us all that one day we may dwell,
O Lord! With Thee!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The 29th Summer

Ahhhh, summer. How can it be described?  It's different for everyone and everywhere.  For me this year there's not much change from my normal fall/winter/spring schedule except I no longer go to work at 5 pm.  (Hooray, school is out!)  My list of activities no longer has to stop in the evening and basically has endless possibilities.  Now the only thing our schedule will be revolving around will be the heat.  
Dallas heat.  How can it be described?  It's kinda hot in the morning and then once 11 am hits it's not 'kinda' anymore but just hot.  It doesn't stop until the sun hits and then, if you're lucky, it goes back to "kinda hot."
Fortunately, it's not sweltering yet and summer is fresh and innocent in my mind.  What does this mean for me?  Time to make my summer goals.  It's my last summer of my twenties , so it's only right that I make at least one big (but attainable) goal.  
keep house clean
reorganize my recipe binders
read my summer book list (please see last post)
take Katherine to the pool once a week
paint our bedroom and bathroom
*begin the “learn Italian at home” course I got for Christmas four years ago
keep basil and cilantro alive
plant mint 
go on more walks
*the one big,but attainable goal
Now that the list has been proclaimed, I am reminded that I have a dirty stock pot in the sink that needs cleaning...  and so it begins.
Basil, still alive and growing, as of May 27th 2011

Cilantro, still alive and growing, as of May 27th 2011

The Imperator, not quite a hot dog but will be soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paperback Travels

The concept of 'world travel' crosses my mind frequently throughout the year.  When March hits I get starry-eyed just thinking about a trans-Atlantic flight and by May I get butterflies in my soul just thinking about medieval streets and mass transportation.
Unfortunately, I do not jet across the world on a regular basis.  I occasionally plan make-believe European vacations in my head and once a year I enter the Olive Garden Italian vacation sweepstakes as many times as possible (http://olivegarden.promo.eprize.com/cit/).  Five years submitting my name has still produced no lucky win. Alas, Europe will just have to wait a little bit longer for this five foot two museum goer, food and wine lover and history maniac (is that what I am?) to step foot on her soil. 
Be still my beating heart and take heart other travel kindred spirits who, like me, love to jet-set but unavoidable obstacles prevent you from actually going.  There is an option...books.
Books?  Yes.  Books.
Every summer I jump into at least one book that takes my traveling mind to Europe.  Two years ago, a biography on Marie Antoinette took me to the inner circle of Versailles and the busy streets of Paris.  Last summer Francis Mayes, once again, let Cortona became my neighborhood and near by Italian regions were my backyard.  So where to go this summer?  I'm not for sure all the places I'll read up on, but here's my initial summer reading list and I intend on getting my European travel fix while sitting and reading on the beach in my mother-land.
La bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language
Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life
Lunch in Paris
Queen Victoria: A Personal History

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Ramblings

Since Randy opted for sleep over the Royal Wedding at 3 am, I had no one to whom I could share my pre-wedding and wedding thoughts except Auggie.  Therefore the only obvious solution is to tell you, dear reader, all of my thoughts as they occur.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Hanger Beast

Once a month my closet explodes.  I haven't quite figured out why I just don't consistently hang up my clothes.  It never fails that once my scattered apparel is placed back on its hanger I get an accomplished and refreshed feeling. 
Recently, I was cleaning my closet when I realized it was time for a closet clean out.  One by one I rid my closet of tops, bottoms, scarfs and shoes.  As my pile of exiled clothes grew so did the number of empty hangers.
Hangers.  Ugh. 
If there is one thing that I hate battling are hangers.  A hanger is fine, but once it becomes hangers it is no longer fine.  As a group, these inanimate objects seem to take on their own life entangling themselves almost to the point where the multiple objects become a singular beast.  What drives me crazy is that when I try to grab one hanger out of a pile it seems to repeatedly hook itself upon on hanger after another.  It makes me want to scream.
So, while I was cleaning out my closet, I was just waiting...impatiently, anxiously awaiting the impending battle.  As always, the struggle with the Hanger Beast occurred and like always I think to myself , "yes, here it is, the cursed animosity of inanimate objects."    

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Secret Garden

When I was a little girl I loved the idea of The Secret Garden.  The movie was mesmerizing and it prompted me to read the book and acquire other stories about a hidden garden among overgrown plants.  I would plant flowers in my backyard and hope for hidden castles at every overgrown spot.  Both ventures were unsuccessful. Little did I know that one day, as an adult, I would find my very own secret garden in my grown-up backyard. 
About this time last year I noticed color erupting from my backyard.  I realized that the previous owner, Mary, was quite the green thumb.  Randy and I however do not have innate skill to nurture plants.  Over the course of the Dallas summer I watched our backyard turn more brown every week.   I was convinced that the roses, peonies, honeysuckle would not survive little watering, excessive heat and no pruning.
Come spring, what do my eyes behold peaking up underneath the piles of dead leaves...color...glorious color!  We didn't kill all our flowers after all.  My childhood dream of discovering a secret garden has once again come true.  My childhood imagination has been reignited, just in time to play with Katherine.

My beloved childhood books that that had something to do with a garden, castle or magic.

The Secret Garden


The Enchanted Castle

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The four hour what?

About three weeks ago Randy handed me a challenge...a food challenge. 
"I want to try the 4 Hour Body and I want you to do it with me.  You know we'll have to change our diet."
The last thing I want to do is change my way of cooking and eating.  I succumbed to the Atkins craze while I was in college.  The headaches and endless denial of delicious breads, fruits and milk did not outweigh the weight loss I experienced.  Ever since that moment I vowed to myself I would live like the Greeks...enjoy life but never in excess (thank you Dr. Fears). 
After sulking the entire afternoon I agreed to go along.  Now, to get the details you'll have to dive into the book (something I haven't done), but what I have gleaned from Randy's reading is the following:
1)  eat lots of protein...like a lot, to the point that you don't want to see the sight of it  
2)  no milk, sugar, breads, grains, yogurt, fruit
3)  meat, eggs, beans and veggie are king
4)  dry red wine and coffee are encouraged (hooray!)
5)  breakfast is a must
6)  lift a kettle bell a couple of times a week
I took it upon myself to make this new way of eating tasty and delicious.  This diet could easily lead to chicken, spinach and beans with every meal.  Gak.  I simply refuse.  So I set out to find what would work.  After the discovery of many a delicious meal I found out that this way of life would not be too difficult after all.  Plus, a two week trial was my commitment to Randy.
The two weeks ended last week and I didn't really lose weight but I gained some insight.  Breakfast is a must and I like beans and lentils.  Most importantly I was reminded that every once and awhile it's good to reevaluate how you eat and how you are taking care of yourself.  This was a good examination and I was able to tweak our diet for the better.
I have decided going into the fourth week that I will partially partake of this new eating regime. Randy on the other hand has had great success shedding weight (what man doesn't?) and has continued along his 4 Hour path.  I am proud of him for his perseverance.  I'll join Randy for the breakfast and evening sessions but everything in between is to our own choosing. 
Nothing in excess, right?   

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Tulsa Trail

Randy and I recently went on a weekend get-a-way that might have altered our way of traveling from this point forward.  It was a trip to spend some quality time with each other, but also to see our dear friends Abi and Zion Spencer.  We took it slow, drove on the back roads and tried to sample what each city had to offer.  The originality of this form of travel does not rest in our hands.  Our trip was inspired by my beloved Aunt Linda and Uncle Curt, who made hundreds of memories just by going down the not so traveled road.  Their stories of new places and hidden gems have been inspirational for Randy and me.  Here's a glance at our trail to Tulsa.  Hope you get inspired too.

Stop #1- Denison, Texas
The Inn of Many Faces http://www.innofmanyfaces.com/
Birthplace of President Eisenhower
Devolii's Italian Restaurant
Our stop in Denison was an over night stay where we had a nice drive around the city, took in some historical sights and had a romantic evening at the quaint Devolii's restaurant.  The real gem of this city was the bed and breakfast, The Inn of Many Faces.  It was a beautiful 114 year old home that Jesse James occasionally visited during his day.  The room was nice, the breakfast delicious and the owners very welcoming. 

The Inn of Many Faces

Birthplace of President Eisenhower
Stop #2- Durant, Oklahoma
Five minutes and $20 at the slot machines told me I needed to place my money elsewhere.  Hello spa.  I opted for relaxation while Randy chose gamblin' games. 

Stop #3 Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Spencer Home
Tulsa.  What can I say?  It is a city that contains my dearest friend therefore it is one of my favorite cities.  Abi and Zion were the perfect host and hostess.  We spent the weekend eating, shopping, relaxing, talking and laughing.  We had the best time.  I even gained three pounds that week, and was okay with it.  The food was that good.  Thanks Zabi for your love and friendship.  We treasure it.

Dinner at Dalesandro's

Another Dalesandro's pic

A lovely morning brunch at Wild Fork.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beard Season

Beard Season ended today at the White House which made the Spring Season official.  For the past five winters Randy has grown a beard which has led to many a conversation.  After about a month and a half I start talking about the clean shaven man I feel for.  The flip side is that most men congratulate Randy on his beard and encourage him to keep growing it.  When I was naive I didn't pay close attention to the beard conversations that occurred "man to man."  I didn't see the influence that other men were.  But now, being the more mature woman that I am, I see it coming within a minute of the "nice beard, man" or "keep that growing as long as you can"  even the "wish I could grow a beard".  Of course I love to hear my husband praised, but these types of encouraging words over the past five years have only motivated Randy to make Beard Season last longer than the previous season's.   I enjoy Beard Season.  I like the fact that my man can grow a beard!  I do have my limitations which of course are different than Randy's.  Regardless, Winter has been shaven and Spring is here!  Now to really make it feel like Spring, I need to plant some herbs and put Rebecca the Brown Thumb to the test.  Maybe this year will be the year.  I can take care of a baby...why not plants?

Enjoying brunch in Tulsa with our beloved Zabi (Zion and Abi Spencer) at Wild Fork.  This obviously occurred during Beard Season.

Enjoying Hat Day which also happened to be the first day of Spring at the White House.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

April Showers

I had a revelation while chopping vegetables a few days ago. 
Vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, and herbs are transforming.  Individually each one holds its own flavor, taste and consistency.  However, when heated or chilled, each one can morph into another flavor and texture.  Bitter.  Salty.  Smooth.  Lemony.  Tough.  Sweet.  Spicy.  Tender.  Pungent.  Mushy.  Crisp.  In addition to its own flavor, when mixed with other products and heated the flavor yet again undergoes a transformation. 
I have come to the conclusion that my life for the past five years has been chopped, marinated, sauteed, boiled, braised and maybe even mashed, among other things. 
Five years ago in March severe headaches sent me to the doctor.  After CT scans, MRIs, and multiple visits to a neurosurgeon, Randy and I selected April 13th to be the day that would change our lives.  On April 13th I had brain surgery.  Sixteen days later I was released from the hospital and got to return home on Randy's 24th birthday.
Unfortunately the surgeon was unable to remove the cyst entirely from my brain and since 2006 I go and get an MRI every six months.  I know what to expect from the MRI.  Thirty-five minutes of loud noises, cold temperatures and a small dose of claustrophobia. My heart races while we drive to the facility and wait for my name to be called.  Sometimes I cry.  What never fails is the sense of peace I have while I walk to the back of the facility and hop onto the board that sends me into the all-seeing machine.  People have asked me what I think about while being scanned.  It's a very simple answer.
Jesus Christ.
I pray.  I praise Him to the rhythm of the machine.  I thank Him for this unique experience.  I ask for healing.  
When I look at the path I am on and ponder what it all means I always have different answers.  I have used this experience in multiple ways and I hope it has been for the betterment of  others.  Yes it's been hard and scary at times. What trial isn't?  Praise God, I am better and different because of it. 
I love to cook.  This is no secret.  So it's not surprising that when I'm in the kitchen heating up oil to braise chicken or chopping up vegetables to throw into mashed avocados I examine life.  The way I see it, we all are being prepped for something larger than ourselves.  For some, no heating is required and you are put on a platter raw.  You are absolutely perfect and delicious.  Others get seared on all sides and then thrown into the oven to be slow roasted for three hours.  A slow process but what flavor and tenderness!
What I've learned is I can't compare my path to others.  I can't worry about the future and fret about the past.  "What if" scenarios are just painful.  I take each day as it comes and rest in the knowledge that God is constantly transforming my soul through unique experiences.  With every MRI and with every doctors appointment He creates in me something new.  This is something to get excited about.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:14-21

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

...and to you sister, merci.

"I don't love Paris," she said.  The room gasped and gazed upon her with judgemental eyes... 
Shocked?  Perhaps blasphemous?  I can't help it.  I am not in love with that city. I do, however, have great respect for the city and its historical importance, culinary development and powerful effect.
February marked a seven year anniversary of a phone call that changed my life. 
"You want to go to Paris for $600?"
Okay, maybe I didn't immediately jump to go to Paris.  I was saving for my Roman adventure which was quickly approaching in May.  Plus I was scared.  I hate to fly.  Hate doesn't even begin to cover it.  Flying is my worst fear and my nemesis.  After a few discussions with my roommates and parents I realized I had to fly to Europe in May, I might as well do it now and call it practice. 
I decided to answer with yes.  Yes I will go.  Yes I will fly by myself.  Yes I will meet you in Paris, sister.  What a powerful three letter word.  I didn't realize that I just said yes to empowerment, independence and a life love of travel. 
This weekend marks the anniversary of a trip that has become a milestone in my life. Thank you, JoDee. Thank you for your love of Paris and its inspiring power. It changed my life for the better.