Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

With a heart full of gratitude I was able to enjoy the richest of blessings this Thanksgiving.  My day was spent with so many loved ones; my friends and family.

My immediate family has a tradition of attending the restaurant named Traditions on Thanksgiving day for an early lunch.  It's always nice to spend that family time with each other, especially now that my brother Brent is living in North Carolina, and we don't see each other as much.  This particular year we decided to arrive extra early and stand in line outside to be one of the first seated when the doors opened.  That's right, my family who doesn't care a twig about standing in long lines on Black Friday for retail deals will gladly stand in long lines for first seating at a restaurant (we've got our priorities).

The afternoon was spent getting some much needed rest!!

Then it was on to another dinner, this one was being held at my Uncle Fred and Aunt Karen's home, for the Heatwole Family.  It's not uncommon for any one of my relatives to bring a guest along to our holiday dinners, and this year I was excited to have my good friend Maurita and her brother Andy join us.  Actually, it was at the Heatwole Thanksgiving meal that I met my friend Chitra three years ago, she had been a guest of my Aunt Glennys (they had classes together at JMU).

 Maurita, a talented musician, found my Uncle Fred's upright bass (not that he was really hiding it).  Isn't she such a natural?
 When everyone else was pulling out their cameras to take posed pictures of each other at the dinner (normal behavior for a holiday meal with the Heatwoles), I was taking pictures of my Aunt Karen's centerpieces.  Aren't these variegated roses gorgeous?  
I had to take a close up on the roses so you can really see the beauty of the color.

The Lord really has blessed me with so much, a loving family, wonderful friends, and the constant beauty of His creation.  So much to praise Him for this Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dinner Party Anyone?

 No, my living room does not usually have a long table running through the middle of the room.  Nor do my couches contain so many different pillows.  This special rearrangement was for a dinner party my roommate Stephanie and I held at our home back the middle of October. 

The dinner was a farewell party for my dear friend Chitra, who was moving (has since moved) to Seattle to join her soon to be husband.  It was definitely one of those bittersweet occasions.  For as much enjoyment I had from planning the special event, to the work that went into that day's preparations, and the wonderful fellowship I experienced during our dinner; there was the reminder that this was one the last times I would see Chitra in quite some time.

We did have a wonderful time that evening.  So, many terrific memories, and friendships were formed (I had invited quite a number of my friends that didn't know each other).   

In honor of Chitra I did something I've never done before...prepared an entire Indian meal (her home before coming to Virginia to study was near Mumbai, India).  I have to say, though I spent a good deal of time prepping for this meal, and worked diligently all through the day, I did not finish the entire menu I had planned (still had plenty to eat).  Just so you're aware, Indian cuisine takes longer to cook than you realize.  I had previously made the items I had planned for our menu, what I had not done is to prepare them together as a coordinated meal.  There's something about coordinating several dishes at once that inevitably slows down the process.

The only non-traditional Indian food item, was the cake pictured above.  I call the cake my "love cake", and this is only the second time I've ever made one.  The first love cake was for my friend Laura who was also moving out of the area.  It's a chocolate cake (because nothing says I LOVE YOU like chocolate), and lettered around the cake is the word "love" in several languages.    Sorry this picture is so blurry, hopefully you can still make out a couple of the words.  With this particular "love cake" my artistically talented roommate Stephanie did the iced lettering, I just prepared the iced canvas for her...I think it was a great team effort!!

Because the time is drawing near for me to get some well needed rest, I'm going to bring this entry to a close.  Hopefully I will have time tomorrow to continue this entry with the story of how I met my friend Chitra, and our friendship of the last several years.

Monday, November 22, 2010

His Great Love

If you haven't already, why don't you take a moment and listen to the beautifully written songs of JJ Heller I have posted below.  I pass them along to you as a blessing that has been passed along to me in these last few weeks.  Their reminder of God's love and grace for me has been a balm to my bruised heart.  If you're feeling somewhat battered and bruised today, listen and be reminded of a God who is there to hold you in His Hands.   

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

J.J. Heller - Your Hands - Haiti Earthquake

JJ Heller - What Love Really Means

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's that time of year again...

Last year, during the summer months, I made an amazing discovery!!  At the time I was living at Sandal House, which is located around downtown Harrisonburg, and making the most of city life.  Now if you know me you'll understand that my appreciation of "city life" is limited to my ability to reach more destinations by walking.  Aside from enjoying walking wherever I need to go, I'm not necessarily thrilled by all the other aspects of "city life", i.e. crowded, noisy, dirty, etc.

All that aside, back to my amazing discovery.  One of the places I enjoyed walking to was the Farmers Market.  I loved to see and try the different produce, it was like having a little bit of farmland in the middle of the city.  Plus, it made a great excursion to take teens too; with the baby strollers, very family friendly.  When the teens came with me it was always a learning experience for them, they had so many questions about the different produce they were seeing.  For some of them if the vegetable didn't come in a can they weren't all that interested in it (sometime I'll write the blog about all the pureed veggies I snuck in their food...but you'll have to promise not to tell them it's still a secret ;))

I also enjoyed going to the market to see an old friend of mine.  He had gotten a summer job working for one of the vendors, and since I hadn't seen him in years, prior to his moving to the area for the summer it was great to see him each week.

I've really sidetracked from my story here, which is to share with you all my amazing discovery.  What you've all waited for....I discovered GOAT CHEESE at the farmers market!!  This wasn't just any ol' goat cheese, it was/is the most yummy, creamy, and smooth goat cheese you'll ever eat.  I tried the sample offered from the vendor that first Saturday visit early in the summer and I was addicted.  Now, a year and a half later I'm still addicted to the cheese.  My favorite flavor is the Southwestern Ranch, but a close second is the Garlic and Chives.  The hard cheeses are delicious as well, my favorite in that category is the Horseradish Cheddar. 

These cheeses are made by new friend, Pam Green, of Green Haven Farm Cheeses.  The Lord blessed this woman with a gift for caring for His goats (I'm sure in this case just as important as His sheep :)), and she's wisely used her talents to bring happiness to others through cheese :)

I was sad last year with the end of summer, because Pam no longer came to the market with her cheeses.  At the time though I was in the process of moving myself out of Sandal House and back into my home in Bridgewater, with so much activity going on it was more like a fleeting thought of regret for the cheese I was going to miss over the winter months.

This year I made trips to Harrisonburg at least twice a month on Saturdays to enjoy the market, and visit with friends (it's quite the social venue - especially with many of my friends living near downtown Harrisonburg).  I'd be lying if I said my trips to the market were entirely socially motivated, or a desire to see and try different produce, it was plainly my opportunity to pick up more cheese.

I went to the market this last Saturday, and even though I knew it was late in the season, I had hoped to see Pam one more time with her delicious cheese.  Unfortunately, it's that time of year again, Pam is taking a break from the market for the winter months, and I'm left waiting until next Spring for a whole new season of cheese.

Even without the cheese, the trip to the market wasn't a waste.  I had a wonderful time with my friend Stephanie as we talked about different produce and how we would cook/bake it.  Stephanie is super talented in the kitchen, and is always trying new things, where I'm more likely to just stick with the status quo.

I did end up buying some beautiful butternut squash from my friend Radell, owner of Season's Bounty.  With a little sugar and spice (and everything nice - in this case milk and butter), I turned some butternut squash into two pies for church fellowship meal today.  Enjoy the photos!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Do I even remember my login password?

Even after four months of inactivity I can still remember my login password...thankfully :)

And what a busy four months it has been, full of all sorts of changes. I've started a new job, had a roommate move in, and in general have been working at sprucing up my home. And those events only scratch the surface of all I've been up too :)

Not much time to write about it all now, but be warned I'm back and in the mood to blog :)  More to come in the next few days, weeks, and months.