Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Half way there

I am halfway through my summer reading list (yes, I know I have less than half the summer left).

Front CoverI finished Gone Girl in June.  For all the rave reviews I've heard and all the weeks this book has spent on the top seller list, I wasn't that impressed.  The writing was good enough that I felt like I was in the heads of the characters, but I didn't want to be in the heads of characters that crazy. It made me begin to feel a little crazy myself.  I just don't have a desire to connect with characters like that!

The Light Between Oceans: M.L. StedmanThe Light Between Oceans was my second summer read and I really enjoyed this one!  I have been recommending it to friends at work.  It is hard to talk about it without giving too much away, but I just kept yearning for the characters to do the right thing.  It was one that was hard to put down.

My latest completion was Half the Sky.  This book took me a little while to get through, but it contains a really good message and encouragement to make a difference in the world.  I was inspired to look into several of the organizations and aid projects that the book referenced. I am always amazed at how much one person who is passionate about something can accomplish and there are many stories of influential women in this book. I hope to do something great in my own lifetime as an advocate for a cause that matters.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Excited About Missions

The end of this week brings some sadness as a good friend leaves Charlottesville for a new adventure. While I'm sad so see her go, I am so excited for what she is doing next. She's going to be a missionary nurse on Mercy Ships in Africa!  I will miss how she inspires me in friendship, cooking, and following God. I am hopeful that staying in touch by following her blog and through email and Whatsapp will allow me to stay nearly as inspired as having her here in person, but I'm nothing beats a good meal together in person.

Before her departure, we celebrated her birthday at Duner's. I had heard rave reviews about this place, so I was excited to finally try it. To be honest, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. It was good, but not my new favorite place to eat. It was pretty pricey too. I had bacon wrapped chicken stuffed with cheese and served with mashed potatoes. Other dishes enjoyed at our table included a pasta dish, crab cakes and salmon.  I actually enjoyed the company better than the food on this outing, but I think the others were much more impressed by the dinner.  Perhaps I have simple tastes.

She also loves Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and has sought them out on all of her travels around the US.  Charlottesville does not have a featured restaurant on the show, so her mission Wednesday morning was to plan her application for Guy to visit our town to try the Blue Moon Diner. I kept it simple with a pancake and side of bacon.  She had the breakfast burrito and another friend tried the breakfast BBQ.  She snapped pictures and decided Guy would definitely go for the BBQ.  It was a fun last meal together. 

I made a "Healthy Peach Crumble" out of the PICU cookbook in her honor for our last shift together on Wed night. And then I found out she doesn't like peaches.... It didn't turn out as good as I'd hoped, so it was a weak send-off.  I'm hoping the baby shower she celebrated in honor of Prince George on her last night at UVA PICU was much more successful. She will definitely be missed!

Yesterday, my Life Group met at the church to welcome back a missions team returning from India. It is so exciting how God invites us to experience and participate in what He is doing in the world. I feel so honored and blessed to know people who are actively serving Him as He leads them.

I have been living a little more selfishly and exploring local events and dining.  Saturday, Michael and I did a wine tasting at Pollak Vineyard.  This one is my current favorite in the area and I wish they had a wine club I could join. I really like their Cabernet Franc which is so easy to drink, but not really a summer wine. 

My brother-in-law is involved in sales at area festivals, fairs, and trade shows. He gets free passes and was willing to share them with me and Michael this past weekend. We got to spend Sunday afternoon at the Daylily Festival in Fishersville. There was lots of wine, food, and crafts in a beautiful setting.
 A storm rolled in shortly after we arrived.  The vendors got a little wet, but we were well protected in a large tent and rode out the storm sipping wines.
 We were able to try some of the wineries outside of our normal travel zone.  Some were just plain awful and confirmed that I am fortunate to live within driving distance of places with good wine makers. I enjoyed Jefferson Vineyard, Well Hung Vineyard, and Barren Ridge Vineyard wines the best (in that order). Tasting meads from Hill Top Berry Farm was an experience, but did not leave me wanting more.

After meeting the India team, my Life Group ate at Vinny's which is up near Target. I had never eaten there before and got the Meatball Sub. It was pretty good!

I feel so blessed to live where I live and have the friends and experiences that I've had.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Last Thursday before the start of my 6 shifts in 7 days, I made some blueberry sourdough pancakes in my cast iron skillet with blueberries from my produce delivery.

Work doesn't come without it's own share of good food. Saturday night we had an impromptu waffle night. I brought batter (I substituted butter for oil in the recipe b/c that's what I had on hand) and butter.  Others provided the fruit, Vermont maple syrup, nuts, chocolate chips, and whipped cream. Yum!

I was fortunate enough to get to hike Blue Hole with Hokie and some friends on Sunday.  On the way back we stopped by the dam at the reservoir where I got some pretty pics.  Hokie was so eager to be included he jumped out of the car window.

Last night I helped with dinner for my life group. I was in charge of buns for BBQ and dessert. I chose to bring Blue Bell neapolitan ice cream! It was a hit. Most people had 2 cones and Michael was scarfing the rest of the ice cream once I brought it home last night. Gotta love Blue Bell!

Today I am baking banana bread with some bananas that were over-ripe.  Dinner will be left over tuna casserole made from a recipe my mom handed down. Michael and I have also been able to enjoy some of the local food choices (Christian's pizza on Sunday, Sweet Frog ice cream with missionary friends passing through town on Tues, and Riverside Lunch burgers on Wed night)!  It is nice having Michael here to cook for and eat out with.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lots of Kitchen Fun

I love getting fresh fruits and veggies delivered to my door! It inspires me to try lots of new recipes.  Last delivery, I got zucchini, kale, corn, cucumbers, red onion, and blackberries among other things.  I tried zucchini pizza and corn salad - both of which turned out fantastic.  I adapted recipes I found on Pinterest.  For the zucchini pizza, I roasted the zucchini then topped it with sauce pepperoni and cheese and popped it back in the oven just long enough to melt.
For the corn salad I added the 4 ears of corn I had, half a red onion, a cucumber, cilantro I had in my fridge, parsley I had growing in a pot outside, salt, pepper, and some lemon juice and olive oil.  It turned out great! I took it home for the 4th of July.

This week, I had a delivery of lettuce, squash, nectarines, blueberries, a giant onion, peppers, green beans, and grape tomatoes. I found a pinterest recipe for squash casserole, one for a grape tomato focaccia, and I cooked up some green beans.  Mom had given me a cast iron skillet I was itching to try out and I had some fish in the freezer that when I tried to bake it came out tasting horribly fishy.  I didn't know if I could eat any more of it but I thought it was worth trying to fry it to mask the fishy taste.  It turned out very tasty. In fact, I would cook every one of these recipes again.