A Gifted Italian

365 Project: Day 31 Yesterday was the last day of 2011 and the last day of December, which means I’ve stuck with this 365 thing for 1/12 of a year. That feels a little milestone-ish. Yay! Also yesterday, Jon and I and Hannah went downtown and picked up my packet for the 10k I’d be running on New Year’s Day morning (which happened to be today). The packet had my timing chip and race number in it, but I also got a nice 1/4-zip polar fleece pull-over as part of my registration. I love races that give fun gear. After that, we stopped over at Jon’s dad’s house to visit, since it would be the last time we’d see my sister- and brother-in-law and nephew before they flew back to Connecticut/ New York. It was New Year’s Eve, but since I always like to be home the night before a race (nerves, I guess), we stayed just long enough to do some munching while we visited, we played a game, and then we also got to enjoy the gourmet cooking of my brother-in-law, David, who is 100% Italian. Not only is he a great guy, he is truly gifted. Blessed with Italian-ness… and a gifted photographer, but his cooking… you wouldn’t believe his cooking (also a gift from on high). I wish you all could have enjoyed it with us. They’ll be moving to Minnesota at some point in the near future, and we are all trying to convince him to open a restaurant… or even a stand at the State Fair. If he does, I’ll be sure to let you know. Then you don’t have to just take my word for it. Here’s David, serving everyone his famous pasta and sauce. It’s not just any sauce. Trust me. It’s the most flavor-packed, meaty, basily, yumness of all 2011. It’s always fascinating to watch a master at work, don’t you think? As you can see, Jon thought so too. We all admire his skills.  He also made this caprese salad roll-type of thing. I think he said it had a name, but I couldn’t hear him talking. I was too busy staring at this platter and drooling. All I know is that it has basil and tomatoes wrapped in mozzarella, and drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I’m not sure if there’s more to it, but it was simply delicious.  One more thing I know is how to pronounce ‘caprese’ in proper Italian form. If you ever want to sound like you know your stuff, say it like this: kuh-pray-zay… with the emphasis on the ‘pray’. I hope that will come in handy for you someday. We ate, and then we headed home shortly after. I was all carbed up and ready for my race the next day. Good timing with that meal choice, right? So many of our sweetest memories in life, especially during the holiday season, seem to be with friends and family. And have you noticed that there’s usually food involved? David, thank you for sharing your gift with us at Christmas and New Year’s! It will remain a big part of our memories of 2011. Can’t wait until you, Julie, and Sam come back to Minnesota–to stay! 1 Peter 4:10 ~ God has given each of you a gift. Use it to help each other. This will show God’s loving-favor. So, are you sharing your gift(s) with the people around you, or are you keeping them to yourself? Yours is a unique gift, and when God gave it to you, He meant for it to be shared. In case you didn’t know....

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I’m no pro…

365 Project: Day 30 This has been a Christmas vacation to remember, which makes me so glad that I started my 365 project in December, instead of waiting for January 1st. I actually have a record of many of the things we did, so that’s going to be super fun to digital scrapbook (when I actually get going on that!). It seems like we’ve spent more time out-and-about than at home, which is so unusual. I love being at home. It’s my favorite place to be. I might need a vacation from my vacation when all is said and done. Not really. 🙂  It’s actually been very refreshing just being with the family—no matter what we’ve been doing. And as much as I love my job (and that’s a lot), it’s been refreshing also to not think about work for awhile, and all the things that will need my attention when I go back. On the eve of New Year’s Eve, here’s me, kicked back in my bowling shoes at the bowling alley after nearly doubling my score from game one to game three. A proud moment.  Don’t be fooled by the bowling shoes. I’m no pro. (The scoreboard doesn’t lie.) Jon and I bought ourselves bowling shoes a couple years ago because we hated having to pay $3 per PERSON each time we went bowling… just to spend a couple hours in someone else’s stinky shoes. It always felt like such a rip-off to me. These shoes are, in fact, totally an attempt at cost-saving, and nothing more. The scoreboard will clearly tell people I can barely break 100, but I can’t help myself. I have to let everyone know I know I’m not very good. I always have to explain to people that I’m here just for the “fun of it”, and then I have to tell them the whole story about how I love saving money and all that. As if they care, but I keep on. In the long run, we’re better off, and the shoes pay for themselves fairly quickly if we actually GO bowling. It’s like using a $6 coupon each time we set foot in a bowling alley! It’s a little thing, but is that fun or what?! If you ever go bowling with me, be prepared to hear the story all over again. Matthew 25:21 ~ His master said to him, “Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master...

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Hummus is yummus!

365 Project: Day 29 It was a good day at Costco. Look what’s back. That’s right… Hannah’s Hommus Singles!!!!  If you’re going to have a store-bought hummus, this is the best around. “Best” is a subjective word, so if you try it and don’t agree, I’m sorry. It’s in individual packages, so it won’t go bad by the time you have a chance to eat it all up. I was so sad, almost heart-broken, when they stopped selling it 95 days ago. I didn’t really count the days, but I’m glad if you trust me enough to believe that I wouldn’t lie to you. I wouldn’t. I was just being funny. My husband tells me that if you have to tell people you were being funny, then… were you really funny? Anywhoooo… we can save that for another time. Back to the hummus. I sent the Hannah’s Hommus people a message on Facebook recently, telling them I need to know where else I could buy it, and they said NOWHERE! And then they suggested I ask Costco to sell it again. It’s not sold anywhere else in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area. Seriously? How can that be? That is a monopoly if I ever did hear one. Competition makes the world go ‘round. We need more Hannah’s Hommus options, don’t you think? Also, it’s disappointing when Costco frequently just up and stops selling things without warning us, giving us zero chance to stock up… and then we also never know if they’ll ever sell it again. It sends loyal consumers into an emotional rollercoaster and frenzy. I hope they don’t do that on purpose. So, at least for now, my fridge is stocked with Hannah’s Hommus, which I will dip fresh vegetables in, and the occasional tortilla chip too. Why? Because hummus is YUMMUS! Praise God from whom all blessings flow....

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French fries are my favorite…

365 Project: Day 28 We hardly ever take an actual vacation away from home, so it has been super fun over Christmas break to do something different and get out and do little things we don’t typically do… like going into the city and eating out at new places, for example. This week, Jon and I and Hannah went to The Anchor Fish & Chips in Northeast Minneapolis with Jon’s dad and sister, our brother-in-law, and our nephew. The place is on the smaller side inside, but SO quaint and charming. After all the reviews we read about them, the consensus is that they are very popular. They opened at 4 p.m., and we got there about 5. There were seven of us, so we weren’t surprised that we had to wait 20 minutes to be seated. Our timing was better than most of the folks who arrived after us though. The line was out the door by the time we left! The atmosphere was so cozy. I loved everything about it. The charm-factor was off the charts for me, which somehow always makes the food taste even better. There are so many good places to dine, so to not love the ambiance would make for a sad day if youspent your hard-earned money and left there feeling like you should have gone somewhere else, right? CityPages named Anchor Fish & Chips as having the “Best Fries” in the Twin Cities for 2011 and “Best Burger” for 2010. There are a lot of burger and French fry joints out there, so that’s quite an honor, I’d say. I am a French fry monster! Oh wait. Let me take that back. That sounds really bad. I just really, truly love French fries. It’s one of my favorite foods, even though I know they aren’t very good for me. I can exhibit self-control around them, but they are one of the reasons I decided I have to run. I know it would be REALLY bad for me if I didn’t.   Anyway, five of us had the fish and chips, but Hannah had the burger, and Jon’s dad had the shepherd’s pie. Everything was a winner! Even their tartar sauce was superb. We’ll be going back there for sure. Have I mentioned that French fries are my...

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Of Commentators, Laundry & Resolutions

365 Project: Day 27 Jon and I and Hannah went to the new movie, We Bought a Zoo, this week. Great story. Loved the story actually, but I never can wholeheartedly recommend a movie without disclaimers, if there are any. It’s PG, but there was some language, so if you’re bringing little ones, just do your homework. 🙂 We rarely go to movies when they first come out because we love being the only ones in the theater. You only get to have that opportunity when movies are on their way out of theaters, but we’re on vacation, so we thought we’d go for it. There always seems to be the wrapper-crinkler… or the seat-kicker… or the popcorn-chomper… or pop-slurper… or the “commentator” who like plopping down right by us. This time, we had a family of commentators sitting right behind us. They seemed to make some sort of commentary in every scene. I was like, are you… SERIOUS?! In the beginning of the movie, I told Jon I wanted to move when they sat down. I just had a bad feeling. He said we weren’t going to move, so I sucked it up. Sigh. Why, why, WHY do they always like to sit by us? I didn’t turn around and yell at anyone, although I did snap my head around once, and also jabbed the back of my seat with my elbow when the seat-tapping started. A test of my love walk, to be sure. Well, it didn’t completely wreck my day, and although it was distracting and irritating, I didn’t let it overshadow the good time we had. We came home, and I got to work on something mindless, like washing, drying, and folding five loads of towels and sheets. It’s amazing the things that come up in your brain when it wanders and you’re doing things that require almost none of your brain.  I was folding towels and suddenly I remembered the goals I set for myself last year at this time. I didn’t want to make any of the typical New Year’s resolutions per se, but I was making it my mission for 2011 to focus on being: 1) Kind and 2) Humble. It was far less overwhelming than setting other lofty resolutions, as I’ve done in the past, and somehow seemed more meaningful. I haven’t actually made an evaluation about how I’ve done in this area in the last 12 months, so I knew when it came up in my head that I’d have plenty to think about. It’s interesting how frequently I’ve thought about those two words in my day-to-day interactions with people. I do believe that having those two words at the forefront of my mind oftentimes kept me in check and did alter my actions or my response. I know I messed up many times, but I know that I succeeded many times too. When I think of humility, I think of not acting like I’m better, smarter, or more important than anyone else, not being arrogant or prideful, and laying down my own agenda or ideas to honor someone else, and to make them feel important—even if they don’t deserve it. That’s not the dictionary definition, but that’s the simplified version I carried around with me this past year. And kindness, well… that’s a simple word that I could write an entire book about. In short, it means to be thoughtful, gracious, considerate, helpful, patient, and tenderhearted. I thought it was kind of ironic that I thought about all this after the movie and just being so irritated by the people sitting by us. There is the potential to be bugged multiple times every day, whether it’s in the movie theater… at work, at home, the grocery store, or anywhere else. I want to continue to grow in love and self-control… and have so much of it… that I surprise and overwhelm those “buggers” with the same 1) kindness and 2) humility that was shown to me when I was least deserving. It’s the love of Jesus that first drew me to Him, which I first felt through the actions of other PEOPLE. It’s that very love that made Jesus real to me. There’s two days left of 2011, and I better run… I have some goals to write out before the new year starts. What are some of your goals, resolutions, or aspirations for 2012? Colossians 3:12-14 ~ So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense....

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