Saturday, March 31, 2012

Photo Challenge March 31st | Where you Relax

Photo Challenge March 31st | Where you Relax

Today I’m up at Seymour Chalet at Mt Seymour with the youth group. Since my hip is lame I’m inside helping with food, hanging out with teens and probably sneaking in a nap at some point. Sad not to ski, since I LOVE skiing, but happy to be up here and am ready to see God move in the lives gathered here. Thank you God that you show up when we make room for you, when we give you space.

Also, if you haven’t heard Passion’s newest Album “White Flag” yet, well you should.
You really should. I am loving it.

And now back to snow, hot cocoa, friends and smelly feet.

Friday, March 30, 2012

March Challenge 29: Feet

March Photo Challenge: 29th | Feet
Paul's shoes and mine - in every way we vary in size.
Though we do both have pretty big personalities - in very different ways of course.

Today is March 30th: Toy. What? No idea. I don't play with toys.
I haven't seen my nephews in ages, so no toys there either. Hmmmm.

So then I thought, hey I don't have to let a challenge define me, March 30th I chose to ignore your challenge.

But March 31st? "Where you relax"
I'm coming for you.
**picture that said with a snarl, will you?**

We're off for a youth retreat with our church this weekend.
Seymour Chalet, here we come!

This will involve a lack of sleep, a lot of fun, a bunch of good food, a great group of people and an expectation that God would move when we make room for him.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday Thirteen: Things I'm Thankful for

Aunie Sauce

Thursday Thirteen | Things I’m thankful for:

To start I should warn you that this is very similar to the things I pray for. Because the things I am grateful for, I also pray for. Seems obviously, no?

1. Paul and our marriage. No need to go into details, I've done that enough in the past.

2. My family, friends and lifegroup - I’m thankful that people like us. This was the cry of my heart as a child, that people could see who I knew I was inside. Awesome.

3. Finances – seriously, I keep thanking God because his provisions are off the hook!

4. Our church & our pastors - because we sure” lucked” out here!

5. Our jobs – especially my wonderful boss

6. Our Home - we love it and it has room and that makes us happy.

7. That God lets me be used for His Kingdom, even in some small way.

8. I’m thankful for Lay’s Salt and Vinegar Chips, and sad that you can't get them in America.

9. I’m thankful for great TV, honestly. I love it. When I say great I mean entertaining to me, not necessarily high brow.

10. Good books (right now I'm thankful for the Hunger Games)

11. Good drinks. (Tea, latte's, Sangria, Beer, Cocktails, Pina Colada, Apple Cider, etc)

12. Lakes, rivers and pools – oh man am I thankful for recreational water.

13. I’m thankful for Blogging – for the blogs I read, for the outlet this is for me and for the many many ideas I get for life, ministry and home from them.

Treats and Trash

Last night Paul and I had a date. It was lovely.

I came home from work, had a shower and then went to the bedroom to lie down. My hip was aching! This is where I was when paul came home so he came to cuddle with me for a bit, lovely. Then we got ready and headed to our favorite pub, the E Walk for cheap wings and beer. We each had a beer and in total three plates of wings between the two of us and only spend $24 after tip. Awesome.

Then we headed to the mall for Timmies and Purdy’s. Steeped Tea for me, coffee for Paul. Then off to Purdy’s for an ice cream bar. This is basically what I always look like when I get an ice cream from Purdy’s…excited, happy and clutching that ice cream so no one can steal it. They are that good.

It helps to understand that when I was young my mom would always let us get a Purdy’s bar when we went to the mall with a Purdy’s. Since the mall was in a different town this happened only a few times a year. AND OH was it exciting when it did. And when I look back I’m surprised she did, she was usually pretty cheap, but I think her mom used to buy them Purdy’s Ice Cream bars and my mom is definitely one for tradition, even at the cost of finances.

I always get my bar dipped in White Chocolate and covered in Sprinkles. It’s still one of my favorite treats. As an adult I get it about once a year…still feels like a treat.

Treats have always been a big deal in my head. The word treat doesn’t simply mean it’s something good, but something good mixed with anticipation and excitement. Something that is as good as I expect. And something that I am so glad happened afterwards, and when I think about it has a rosy tint glow to it. It’s the whole package: before, during/actuality, and after.

I have a few of these “treats” leftover from childhood. Most have fled with adulthood – pop no longer seems so treat, it’s more bad for me and too intense for my taste buds, shockingly, to my 10 year old self, I now prefer water. Jumping on things – my back hurts, it’s not so exciting anymore to flail about on a trampoline and I get really tired quickly. Pools? Sure I still love them, but not in the all day all the time, every trip sort of way. Paper cut out dolls? They’ve sadly lost my interest, right along with Barbies (sorry 10 year old self, but it did have to happen eventually). Also staying up late is now something I try to fight against, I want sleep!!! And cookies? I can take ‘em or leave ‘em – and that has not always been the case.

But treats that remain from childhood? Purdy’s Ice Cream bars, Blizzards, Salt & Vinegar Chips, DQ Ice Cream Cakes, Candy (though now in smaller quantities), dates with my Dad, reading a good book while eating, baths with books (though now add Sangria), floating down a river or lake in a tube or canoe, getting popcorn at the movies and a swim on a hot day in a cool lake.

There are also some treats that have emerged as I get older; cuddling next to my husband each night and morning (seems far more decadent than anyone deserves, but we are happy to take it), a glass of wine/sangria/beer at the end of a long day (or a hot day, or a cold day, or a good day….really any day), going to bed early, having an evening with no responsibilities or plans, and holding my nephews.

Our date last night felt like a treat. From start to finish. I love eating out, that’s always been a treat as well. I love beer, that’s a treat. I love pub food, wings fits the bill perfectly. Then we got Timmies Steeped Tea, which is a favorite, Purdy’s (treat for sure) and ended up at the movies, ready to watch a movie I really really wanted to see, with a great story line…and books behind it. Oh, it was a treat for sure!

Oh and when we got home Karen had done all the dishes.
Happy Happy Happy Happy.
Paul and I went straight to bed, and I was very happy with life.

It looks like Paul will probably be leaving in a week and a half, on Easter Monday. That leaves 7 more nights to sleep together. I will cherish them each. It’s only 7 because we’re away at the youth retreat this weekend.

The next 7 ½ weeks will be interesting. I will see Paul at the end of week 3, he will fly home. Then I will be an hour away from him (so he will visit me there) for a wedding, so I’ll see him at the end of week 5 and then he will be home at 7 ½ weeks. So it’s 3 weeks apart, 2 days together, 2 weeks apart, 1 day together, 2 and a half weeks apart, 3 months together. Doable. Hard but doable.

Other than the obvious hard things (missing Paul, not having someone around in the evenings and being very unused to being apart) there are a few things that Paul does around our house that will now fall to me and I am not looking forward to them. These are his jobs because either I don’t like them and he does, I find them gross and he doesn’t mind, with my bum hip lifting is hard or even just that he does a better job than me. Without further discourse here are the jobs!

1. Laundry. While we both sort and fold our own laundry, Paul carriers mine up and down the stairs and switches it over for me. My hip and I will miss this.

2. Garbage and Recycling. This is a two part problem. Not only do I dislike taking the garbage out but it is heavy and I am weak. On top of that I don’t know how to sort the recycling. Our system is that I put all the recyclables in one big bin and Paul sorts them. Now that will be my job also, yikes.

3. Carrying in the groceries (or cart mule). I do all the meal planning, food budgeting, grocery shopping and organizing of food. Paul carries in the groceries while I put them away. I will miss his help.

4. Dishes. Paul and Karen do the dishes together, but he is a very important cog in the wheel. And on Tuesdays when our LG is over he is charge of making sure I don’t get stuck cooking for 12 and cleaning up after 12 – so I’m not sure what that will look like. Girls from LG reading this (Stef and Jodes) any thoughts?

5. Cleaning the bathrooms and Vacuuming. While I help tidy the house, and the kitchen is MY domain, Paul takes care of the rest of it. He vaccums the rooms and tidies them. And he alone cleans the bathroom. Not only am I not awesome at cleaning bathrooms (I’m far too ADD) I also find it super gross. Cleaning toilets involves a lot of me trying not to gag and not enough productivity.

So this will be interesting – and if you come over and find me sitting in a pile of dirty laundry, with garbage and recycling in a growing pile by the door, and dishes strewn throughout the house, I suggest you a) avoid the bathroom and b) quietly slip away to call Paul to come back to his wife, she clearly needs him

7 ½ weeks. I can do it.

I think I can I think I can I think I can….

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 28 "Trash" and a Sausage Roll

March 28 | Trash:

Though I always think this garbage sign and handle look like a smiley face:


Today I grabbed the mail key and headed downstairs at work to get the mail.
I did this to 1) get the mail and 2) distract myself from being hungry.

I returned without the mail, and with a sausage roll:

Clearly this was not a day meant for success..but oh was it tasty

And tonight we shall feast on wings and beer - and popcorn at the Hunger Games.

And life shall be good.

messed up diet and all.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In which I talk about food, clothes, outfits and concerts

I have struggled with this photo challenge more than I thought I would. 
I have thus far skipped these past few days: "Moon", "An animal", "Breakfast" and "Key".

However today I can get back on track with "YOUR NAME"...ready?
Oh yeah.    Gold.    Tara.    Awesome.

When I'm not writting my name in gold, what else am I doing, you ask?

Reading the Hunger Games.
All three books in about 5 hours a book.
So addicting.

Paul and I have a big date tomorrow night - he leaves some time next week for 2 months away of work so we wanted to have a special date. For us this means doing things that make us super happy.

So it's cheap wings and beer at our favorite pub
(shout out to the Elephant Walk at Knight and 41st, what up!)
and then a movie "Hunger Games" obviously.

Last night we made dinner a bit special. While our homestay Student Karen was back in China for Spring Break she turned 17. We wanted to throw her a dinner. So we did. Awesome food, was a wonderful teenage girl celebration.

The Menu | from top to bottom
Steak rubbed in garlic then cooked in a pan
(would have preferred grilled, but such is life)
Buttery garlick prawns and sauteed mushrooms atop the steak.
Asparagus tossed lightly in butter
Baked Potatoes & Zucchini, coated in a spinach, cream cheese & bacon garlicky cream sauce.

Our mouths were very happy.

Also we posed for a photo and never before did I notice how ridiculous we look as a family.

I mean come on...other than nationality, you couldn't tell by looking at us who is the student and who is the host parent. It looks like a pic of Paul and his two students or something. Yikes.

Friday night I went with a group of 30 friends to watch the Passion Band at Rogers Arena. 17,000 people signing and worshiping God to great music? Heck yes!

Stefany, Jodi and I
Jenna and I - love my sister!

Saturday Paul and I slept in until 1pm.
It was our last day to do that before he leaves for 2 months of work.
 It was lovely. I will miss our weekend mornings.
Then we headed out to Langley to visit with our friends the Saffolds, which always makes me happy.

Sunday I discovered an outfit that I thought was quite cute, combining my new sweater from Superstore and a scarf from Old Navy.

John and Crystal spent the night at our house, so we went out for brunch in the morning.
The food and company were both excellent.

Later we went over to Paul's Dad and Step mom's for Easter Dinner (early easter dinner) since Paul is leaving so soon. It was gorgeous outside! We had wine and appies in the sun.
I made stuffed mushroom caps:

And lastly, I have worn  outfits that made me smile the last few days at work:

After work today I rushed home.
We had life group coming over at 7:15, and this week Jodi was making dinner and she would be coming over around 6:30.
Which meant I had 2 hours from my arrival home to their arrival to read the Hunger Games, book 3.

So I poured myself some Sangria, curled up on the couch and got reading.
It was lovely.

Oh and I had some Lay's Salt & Vinegar chips, cause that's how I roll.
And they're my favorite. I think they taste like heaven 

Life group was wonderful as usual. 10 of us this week for dinner, conversation and worship. Paul shared his testimony and it was great to hear again how God has moved in his life.

And now Paul and I will curl up on the couch and catch up on SNL from the weekend.
We are one happy pair.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Twisted hair-do

So I couldn’t decide what to do with my hair today and it felt gross and lanky. I work all day and then have a concert (Passion band, what?!) with friends later, and didn’t feel like looking terrible for it. And while in the photo just below it looks fine, I just couldn’t take it.

So I went to a blog site “Bye Bye Beehive” that is written by a blogger I follow “Aunie Sauce”. I noticed this hairstyle. She said she based the hair style off of this site.

So I tried.
I kind of succeeded.
Sorry for the lame photos, no one here to take them for me other than the mirror!

The front:

The side:

The back:


Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 22nd Kitchen Sink / Faux Mushroom Risotto

Photo Challenge: March 22nd
Kitchen Sink

I saw this online today: as someone with ADD it made me giggle.

I bought myself flowers and they made me smile:

So after the weekend away and feeding lifegroup, I have many random leftovers. 
For example i have SO MANY mushrooms, it's ridiculous. 
Seriously. So many. 
Also bacon. Leftove bacon, really?
After Tuesday I had some plain rice leftover from tuesday and milk and cream leftover from the weekend.

I decided to make a Faux Mushroom Risotto.
Since the rice was already cooked it wasn't  a real Risotto, but I sauteed the rice briefly in butter then let it simmer in chicken broth and seasoning. 
Making the kitchen smell awesome, fyi. 

I diced up and cooked the bacon. I added a ton of sliced mushrooms to the pan. I forgot I had spinach or I would have added that as well. I seasoned the mushrooms in garlic and onion salt and slowly added cream and milk, tossing in a bit of flour before I began to let it simmer. 

I baked Chicken in the oven (salted with onion and garlic salts). 
When it was done I sliced it for adding to the dish. 

I added the mushroom sauce to the simmering rice and then added the chicken to all of that. 
Not only was it tasty, but the amount of garlic involved insured that no other ladies will be trying to kiss my husband *smile*

The baked chicken, mushroom sauce (back right corner) and simmering rice (front).
Tossing the chicken
Ready to eat!

How else did Tara use leftovers, you ask?
Let me tell you.

Bacon - 2 packs, has been used in almost every meal for the last week
Wraps - used in chicken toquitoes
Cheese - used in chicken toquitoes
Baked Potatoes (x2) - sauteed with leftover mushrooms, zucchini and bacon.
Mexican Rice (from toquitoes) - used in Mexican Pie instead of ground beef
Roasted Veggies (about 6 cups of different types of veggies, roasted or grilled, leftover from the weekend) - used to make soup, yummy veggie soup. These were my lunches for the week. 
Brown sugar mix & Apple (from Apple Bombs) - Apple Crumble

All in all, I feel pretty happy with how I've used the food that is around the house. 
I love being productive and thrifty, while creating excellent food. 

Friendship, Security & Cabin Times

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and growth lately. My friend Stefany (Frencheny, as I like to call her in my head) wrote a great blog post about it based off of a trip we took last weekend. I was reminded that I have been very blessed, relationally. Because I grew up without many friends I value my relationships hugely – I am very aware of how lucky I am to have wonderful people around me who love me, and a relationship with a God who is perfect and loving, and have that define me.

I’ve been thinking about the role that insecurity plays in relationships. Or rather what it looks like to have relationships that are deep and foster security and safety. Growing up I had a lot of insecurity on me – I kind of wore it like a coat. I grew up without many friends – almost none in elementary school, near the end I’d have like one or two friends a year. Most days I got beat up or bullied. Some days I was just ignored. I was never sure which was worse, being totally not noticed? Or being noticed negatively?

This photo always breaks my heart - you can see my mom in the background touching me lovingly, you can see the strawberry shortcake hat and homemade strawberry shortcake cake and you know I'm loved...and yet you can see from my face that what I have been taught by my peers at school has deeply impacted 7 years old!

In junior high I had a small group of friends, but my insecurity made me believe they only let me hang around them because they felt sorry for me. In that group of friends there was a girl that loved to torment me. She told me daily that I was annoying, that no one liked me and that I was ugly. She threatened to beat me up if I came to the school dance or hung out with our friends outside of school. She had others say similar things to me as well, for some reason many people were under her thumb. And as much as I’d like to blame her for that, she obviously was dealing with a ton of issues…and so were the others that followed her. And I can’t put it all on her – there were a whole bunch of girls that loved to make fun of me, there were other cliques that tormented me (and other kids, I definitely wasn’t alone in the bullied department).

Thankfully at that time I had a great group of friends in youth group (what I would have done without them, I do not know – I lived for youth group), but they went to different schools, so the days stretched long for those three years. Junior high taught me the truth I’d always feared in elementary school; that my coat of insecurity wasn’t false, that it was true. That I was really everything I feared I was; too loud, awkward, selfish. It taught me that no one would really like me, and that no matter what I’d never quite be enough.

Then high school hit and I started to come into my own, people started to like me. I met new friends and was enjoyed! People liked me. I went to sleepovers and hang outs and it was clear that grade 10 was the best year ever. Those friendships have passed now (sadly) but I am so thankful for a first glimpse of what friendship could be. I started to also make friends in other groups, and have relationships across different grades and social structures. By the end of High school I had over 50 people at my birthday party; I began to understand the joy that can fill your heart when people get you, as kooky as you are, and love you anyways.

Because, look, I was pretty kooky then:

The insecurity was still there; but I began to wonder if maybe it wasn’t truth. If maybe the people that liked me could be right, that there was something special about me. I was terrified to even think that though; I wanted it to be true so badly.

When I left high school, I left church…and slowly I left God. I had some relationships that were broken, some friendships that burnt and I retreated from what I knew. I embraced a life of partying and the friends that came with. And surprisingly, there I found some friends that I still have to this day. I didn’t leave behind my insecurity, but I threw something even stronger at it – false confidence, promiscuity and alcohol. Those two can mask any number of insecurities. I managed to convince myself that I was ok…that if I drank enough, that if I slept with enough guys and if I was funny enough, that it was all ok. I convinced myself that I had created a new self, a new Tara. But really, all I did was hide the real Tara further from people, without realizing it. Everything was a show, until I got super drunk and cried and repeated that often. Everything was a performance and it was tiring.

Throughout these years, I had a few friends that really became heart friends. They saw through the insecurity, the show, the fake self, and saw who I really was. Friends that saw me in my crap and still liked me. Those are friends I still care for deeply…having moved away I don’t see them often but oh do those relationships mean a lot. One of those friends was even in my wedding, and a few of them were also able to come to my wedding – and it meant so much to have them there.

When I decided to go back to God, I knew I had to believe who he said I was and stand in his security and significance. I also knew a large part of that would entail having real friendships. Friendships like the ones I just mentioned. I knew that this needed to be the trademark of my relationships and not the exception, like in the past. So I decided to trust God – to trust that he was my security and my significance. That I could be me, safely in Him. That he made me on purpose and by design. And then, I began to walk in that. People said I was more confident, but really I just began to understand who God said I was. And from that place I could foster real, deep, safe, intimate relationships. These relationships are built from openness. You cannot build a relationship with someone if you never share who you are. You cannot build a relationship with someone if you never learn who they are. Depth of relationship comes from honesty and vulnerability. We must trust that God has us covered, and from there we can be ourselves.

It has been 5 years now since I made these last decisions. When I meet people, I am unashamedly me. And I hope that as I do that, they will return the favor. And generally they do. I can sense when someone is honest and authentic – and I always respond to that, I think we all would. So that is my goal.

Now I’ve tried this to varying degrees of success – sometimes this is received well, people can be trust-worthy and responsive….other times people aren’t the safe place I’d hoped. But I still think it is the best way to grow real and healthy relationships – and in those less than safe placed I get to watch God guard me, win win!

This is something we’ve been talking about at lifegroup – as Christians, what is the standard we are to reach for in our relationships? What does it look like to steward friendships? What does it look like to be responsive to God? What does it look like to have fun and depth in friendship? Because it can be tricky to try to “have it all” but God is fun, and funny and amusing…and he is depth and healing and wholeness. I want relationships that are both.

This weekend, as Stefany mentioned in her blog, 16 of us went away to a cabin outside of Pemberton. The weekend wasn’t about the snow or getting away, but being together away from life. I had wonderful talks with different women and I am so thankful for a time to get away and debrief with people. I know the guys had great talks amongst themselves as well, and when we returned to Vancouver and had life group on Tuesday, we had an amazingly beautiful conversation about what friendship and discipleship look like for us. There were many voices all wanting to share and I got to play the role of mediator. People shared their hopes, their hurts and their experiences. We learned about where each of us comes from and what it looks like for each of us to feel loved. We argued and prayed and agreed and shouted and had silence and laughed. And it was so fun watching everyone come together to figure out how we can be more healthy, more welcoming, more Christ centered. What a great truth to fight for.

And here...some photos to prove I have friends and fun: 

The drive up: Sea to Sky

 The Duerrings Cabin

Me, ensconsed in a wall bad. So happy.
Also I've since lost that book, dang it!

Me with Jodi and Stefany. Happy!

The flat on our car:

Working on it:

The girls all stood around and took pictures.
Behind Stefany, in the car, is Lyndsay who is also taking pictures.

While we waited, we went for a walk

Jodi and Stefany held hands

This seemed beautiful

In colour also:

It was snowy!
Stefany posted many photos of the couch building, so I'll skip those, you can see them on her blog. They're better than mine since she is a photographer.

But here are some others moments from the snow time:
Paul Ice Fishing 

My husband was very  happy.

We also cooked food

Here my cousin John ate some of it 

Look, people cooking and people rolling a snow ball for the couch. Awesome!

It was gorgeous

I was so glad Gabe brought the lovely sunshine along

She made me a snow man.
Can you tell that it is miniature and has a dorito nose?

The drive home was GORGEOUS
Like for realz
We headed home for bacon wrapped steaks cooked over the fire, BP's roasted in the fire, and veggies baked or roasted. It was awesome. Then we made Apple Bombs. Get ready for it.
This was us making them: Laura and Sunshine were my workers.

For apple bombs you core apples and stuff them full of brown sugar, cinnamon and raising. Then you wrap them in foil and bake them on the fire. Tastes like apple pie.

Later we sat outside around the fire.
I tried to capture the moment with Paul.
He looks inebriated.
Oh well.
Also John popped his head into the photo. Classic cousin.

So we tried again.
Nope, my sleepy husband still looks drunk.

Anyways...great weekend.
Many stories of crazy car troubles and epic meals
(that's right, I said my meal planning on the weekend was epic, ha!)

All in all a perfect weekend.


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