lentils are delicious!

During my first term at L'Abri, we feasted regularly on something called Lentil Casserole. At first I thought it was despicable. It's brownish mushy pebbly consistency reminded me of cleaning the rabbit hutch when I was younger. Shelby made the casserole every week, my memory is telling me that it was every Thursday's dinner. "You'll get used to it" said Vanessa. Oh boy.

But Vanessa was right! Thanks to Shelby's consistency, after a few Thursday dinners I realized I was actually looking forward to the plate full of tastiness. I think most of the students would agree with me, it was a good meal!

That was more than 2 years ago. I never wrote that recipe down and I have been full of regret. I have searched on different occasions for something similar, but was never successful. Never, until yesterday! I was skeptical, but I cooked my heart out last night! The recipe was perfect, full of flavor and full of memories.The whole thing was absolutely fantab-schmabulous! It was so great, that I am going to pass the recipe to you.

Lentil Casserole

2-2/3 cups water
1-1/4 cups white wine
a splash of olive oil
3/4 cup lentils, uncooked
1/2 cup brown rice
2/3 cup onion,
2 cloves garlic, well chopped (a few extra cloves never does any damage)
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
2 or 3 cups of grated cheese. (enough to cover the entire top of the casserole)

Combine all of the ingredients (except the cheese) in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into a 1-1/2 quart casserole. Place the casserole (uncovered) into the oven (350 F) and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Stir things around about twice during cooking. Remove when the casserole is moist but not runny. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for another five minutes.

NOTE: If you are going to make this in a 9x13 pan you might want to double the recipe. You don't have to, but it ends up being a thinner layer if you don't double it.

This tastes wonderful with a good salad w/balsamic vinaigrette, and hearty whole wheat bread. The vinaigrette compliments the casserole flavors very well and I find myself pushing things together. Enjoy, and send me your feedback if you do!


it smelled like my grandmother

I smelled my grandmother this morning. I walked past this older woman in the parking lot and got a whiff of her perfume. It is the same as Nana's (my grandmother). I don't know exactly what she wears, but it's that awful smelling stuff that somehow smells really good when it's cloathing someone that you love. I wanted to walk over to the woman and give her a hug just so I could breathe it in. I didn't do that though, just in case you were a little concerned.

It's been a while since I've talked with her. I wonder if she's staying out of trouble. I miss her and I wish that we had a stronger relationship. I love her.

Also, I read about a man who just became a burrito eating champion! He ate 10 3/4 burritos in 12 minutes. Wow, that's something to be proud of!


what if?

The other day I ate a banana while driving. Not knowing what to do with the peel, I set it down on the passenger seat, figuring I'd throw it away when I stopped. I forgot.

The next day I was leaving for work and when I got into my car I saw that banana peel still sitting on the seat. I needed to clear off the seat because I had offered to give my roommate a lift to her car. So I asked, "Katie, do you think I can just toss this over in the grass beside the building?" Figuring that it is natural and will disintegrate soon enough we agreed that it would be fine. And then Katie made another comment. She said "Well...I mean, it's not TOTALLY natural. If we threw bananda peels in the grass every day then it might mess with the ecosystem. The grass might die or something."

Well, that got me thinking. What if my banana DID throw off the ecological groove? What if I came home to yellow rubbery grass and giant bananas all over the ground like manna? What if banana bugs evolved and started flying around diving into people? There could be chaos!!!

I was just thinking...

This is my best attempt at illustrating this mayhem. It's pretty frantic isn't it? You're going to think twice about throwing your banana peels out the window aren't you?


birthdays are the bomb-diggity!

The timing of this blog post it touchy. This is a post to wish a very good friend a very happy birthday. In America, his birthday is tomorrow. In Australia where he hails, his birthday is right now. So tricky!!!

So here is my wish, with all my heart! I wish you a wonderful birthday!

Thanks for being a good friend during rough times.

Thanks for helping me with Sunday breakfasts, especially when it required cutting onions. You donned those goggles so fashionably! You and and Bethany created the most fun moments in the kitchen.

And no one could have been a better Butler.

There are times in my life when I find myself dragging with discouragement. Sometimes I feel alone or confused. Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing, or if I'm making even the slightest difference in my world. My friends are bright reminders of how faithful God is to take care of my heart. My friends keep me moving, keep me living, keep me dreaming, and they keep me laughing. Sometimes it is merely the thought of a good friend that takes me through a rough day. Sometimes it is the thought of a friend that helps me to stay focused. Sometimes it is the voice of a friend that kindly reminds me of who I am. Friendship is a community, regardless of the distance that separates. I am thankful for my community of friends. People, readers, cherish your friends. It's important. They are gifts!

Happy Birthday Kenton, you are a gem!


Is that chocolate flavored bread or is there potting soil in that dough?

This weekend I had a long long list of "MUST DO" things. Along with that I also had a long long list of "I WOULD LIKE TO DO" things. On this fresh and vibrant Monday morning I can say that I'm feeling very accomplished.

On Saturday I was trying to bake up a few loaves of Amish Friendship Bread but I also wanted to pot these new plants that I bought. A woman's work is never done :-) So in between recipe steps I ran outside to dig my hands in the dirt. That night I enjoyed a slice of yummy sweet bread and a living room full of beautiful vegetation!

Also that night, I went to meet some friends at Mocha's, a downtown coffee shop. It was a bit windy that night and I stepped outside of my car to put my coat on. While doing so, the wind slammed my door shut...yes...leaving my keys and everything important inside staring mockingly at me. Thanks to my brother who somehow manages to save me from SO MANY of my clumsy mishaps, I didn't have to worry. He decided to come up to Milwaukee for the night so he brought a spare key with him. Thanks buddy!


fresh air, my cat ran away, and thoughts on life without god.

Last night I decided (at 11:30 p.m.) that it was time to rearrange my bedroom. I haven't been sleeping very well. There was so much dust and stale air in my room and for some reason the placement of my bed was really bothering me. So I moved my bed next to the window, took out the air conditioner, dusted, swept, organized... and finally at about 1 a.m. I turned down the lights, lit some candles, relaxed in my freshly made bed next to the cool breeze by the window and read a few chapters of a book. I feel so rested today!

I suppose that you don't really care about the placement of my bed or how well I am sleeping, nor do you care about the dust in my bedroom, but I feel so well today that I just had to write about it.

While unloading my car last night my cat Solomon decided to venture out of the apartment. Unaware of his absense I locked up and walked down to the grocery store. When I came back home my landlord was walking down the hall carrying my cat. I was confused. I guess he was sitting at someone elses door meowing to get in. I don't know how to interpret that. Was he trying to escape and sneak into someone else's home? Or was he confused and crying at the wrong door? I'm hoping for the latter!

This isn't actually a picture of my cat. I stole this one from Google Image. But he looks a lot like my big lump of love so just pretend.

Thought for the day: I have a lot of doubts about God. I have so many unanswered questions about my faith. I am often really annoyed with Christianity, the church and the lack of coherence between life and the way I'm expected to believe. But sometimes I catch a glimpse of life without God and I shudder. Sometimes I peer into a situation where God has been excluded and I stare dumbfounded at choices that have no foundation, actions that have no meaning, and words that glitter with gaudy flattery. In those moments I feel so much more respect for a Sovereign God. I feel so much more at peace with my crumbling ideas. I feel like I can rest, and I guess I feel like I have made the right choice in honoring God.

Do you ever feel this way? What are your thoughts?


hiking with the cat

Meet Herman. Also known as Hermander and Hermantitus. We were buddies.

One afternoon I decided to take a hike up the mountain behind the cabin. There is a massive stairway that leads to an amazing view. I started hiking up the steps and then I heard a soft pitter-patter behind me. I looked back and saw Herman running up. I think he wanted to give me the tour.
It was funny because he would run up about 5 steps ahead of me and then sprawl out on his back across the step. I'd walk around him to keep going and then he would run up ahead of me again, stop about 5 stairs in front of me and then sprawl out again. This continued all the way to the top. Funny kitty!

Here are some pictures from the top. Isn't it amazing?

wherever you have friends you have a home

Here are some pictures of my home away from home. Everything about it was rich and comforting and perfect. This is where Vanessa and Ryan live. It is a lovely one room cabin just outside of town. The property is set up the side of the mountain. At the bottom is the outhouse, then the cabin, then the sugar shack (where I lived).

Isn't it wonderfully cozy and colorful?

Up the stairs is the loft bed.

This is the Sugar Shack. I loved it! Vanessa painted it with all of her favorite colors which made me laugh.

And Oh, the beloved outhouse.

there were big fish and whales and bears and moose and sea otters and eagles and people too!

Right after that fabulous fishing experience we happened upon a mother moose and her calf. They were right in the middle of the road, I couldn't believe it! My wildlife pictures are quite blurry so you'll have to squint a little and tilt your head and use a little imagination :-) It is difficult to set up for a good picture when you are also doing your best to back up and avoid any sort of confrontation. I really appreciate the respect that the people have for their wildlife. Sometimes I feel like even our national parks turn into zoo-like places with tourists flocking around groups of animals.

The next day Vanessa took me to see a house she lived in when she was little and right away we noticed a big brown head sticking out of the cherry tree. It was a black bear! Again, we backed up and tried to avoid being noticed. It was a beautiful bear but his face was kind of slobbery looking.

Shortly after that we went to relax around the lake and there was another black bear fishing in the water! I didn't get any pictures of that one. We just kept driving.

There were bald eagles flying everywhere and they were so majestic. Also, while I was riding the boat back into Juneau I looked out my window and noticed 6 humpback whales swimming and jumping. One of them breached and it was so amazing. I got goosebumps when I was watching them. I looked down at the water closer to the boat and there were two sea otters just swimming alongside the boat. Nature is so alive there!


my biggest fish story EVER!!!

Haines is a very peculiar town. With only about 2,000 people, it didn't take very long before I started to recognize faces and remember names. Vanessa, having lived there all of her life, knows nearly EVERYONE in town. I am not exaggerating. She was naming people in all of the cars that drove past us. She knew everyone in the market, the people at the gas station, the lady walking her dog, the little girls going out for a swim, the guy jogging down the street... Town gossip was very alive. Everywhere I went it seemed like people were talking about other people's personal lives. In a town like that it's hard to live a private life. The best way I could comprehend it was to relate it to my University years. We had a student body about the same size as Haines, Alaska. By the end of my time there I knew the name, hometown, academic specialty and boyfriend/girlfriend of every student. Bizarre, none the less.

I hate to dwell on this point, but I spent a lot of time thinking about community while I was there. There is something organic that happens when you let your guard down and the private sector of life is left open. But there is also something very irritating and restricting when everywhere you go you are predefined.

On another note, my first afternoon I went out on the water with Vanessa and her dad. We had to pull in a halibut skate. We pulled in a 150 lb. halibut. It was unreal!!! The next day we ate some of it, and I think it was the most amazing fish I had ever tasted. It was so fresh that it just melted as it hit my tongue. Here are some pictures of the fish. Notice that it's nearly as long as Vanessa's body. Getting the fish out of the boat was a chore. Mr. Phillips fell backwards into the water while pulling the hugemongous thing onto the dock. It was funny. I had a lot of fish slime all over my hands and clothes but it didn’t seem to matter. This is paradise to me.

It was a perfect afternoon. The mountains were sharp and clear and the water was as smooth as a mirror. I felt festive in my layered fishing clothes. I wish I could dress like this every day.


the beginnings of alaska

Sleeping in airports is lame no matter how much you try to make the best of it. I snuggled up on the floor next to the giant stuffed black bear and tried to sleep but I struggled through the entire night. In the morning I washed up in the bathroom, bought some coffee and walked outside to hire a cab to the ferry terminal. As I walked outside I was greeted by the mountains and suddenly everything was absolutely perfect.

I shared the cab with some other people traveling to the ferry and they paid the bill. That was really nice of them. At the terminal I met some people who were traveling with their Siberian Husky. She was beautiful. It was nice to sit down and play with the dog. Here are some pictures of the ferry. I rode the Aurora.

It was a 4 1/2 hour ride to Haines. I couldn't complain one bit. Although I was incredibly exhausted I just couldn't close my eyes. The scenery was too rich and inspiring. I took so many pictures. Here are just a few.

Okay, well that's all for now. I'm a little backed up with my blogging. I'm in Seattle right now and I'll soon be back home. I have so many great stories and pictures from Alaska so you can look forward to a few more blog posts next week. Until then, have a happy holiday weekend!