Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

My ministry stumbled across this adorable Easter video a few weeks ago. Enjoy learning about Jesus through the eyes of a child.
Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Waits

Allie has been here for the past 8 days for her spring break. It's ironic it's called "spring" break since we really haven't been experiencing any spring at all! For the last week of March it is unusually cold, rainy, and dreary. This unexpected weather put a big damper on much of our spring break plans. Horse-backing riding with friends, a family day at the US National Whitewater Center, a trip to the park and more were postponed until the summer. Nonetheless, we still found a plethora of ways to have fun indoors. :) 

Music
Allie and Zach are both musicians. I am a "retired" musician. My previous career included abandoned piano lessons as an elementary schooler (I hated it) and setting down the clarinet as a sophomore in high school after playing 4 years. (I was actually pretty good at that one.) Anyways, Zach plays pretty much everything and Allie plays the violin. Their love of string instruments leads them together often, but especially this trip. 

This was the first time I saw her pick up one of his guitars and pick at it. :)
They also started writing a song together about a guitar named Joe and a Violin named Mo-lissa. It's hilarious. Gosh I love these two birds!
Baking
In addition to music, Allie and I love to cook and bake. But more than cook, I think Allie loves to experiment in the kitchen which is honestly something I never do. I will follow a recipe explicitly to ensure it comes out perfect. Allie on the other hand likes to rather randomly, mix things together and see what happens. Ha! She did this once this week, attempting to make cinnamon bread and considering she used almond meal to make it gluten-free for me, it turned out... ok. Ha!
Later on she made pumpkin bread and this time followed the recipe. :) Often in the kitchen I find myself torn between wanting to teach Allie the right way to do things and wanting her to have the freedom to create. I guess it's a balance. After all, how will she ever learn if she doesn't try it on her own? :) I do love to teach her how to do things though so one day she can be an incredible chef and party host. :)

Art
Allie also looks outside the kitchen and in general, outside the box, to create art. We went to Lowes so she could create something out of paint swatches...

Shopping
And we also went shoe shopping... which led to creating fashion statements. Ha! In one of the stores, Allie wanted to try on hats and so, we did. :)





She. Is. So. Funny.
Friends
Also this week, Allie spent time with her friends at church. She and Payton helped run the tech booth for our preschool large group environment (called the Art Studio) during Saturday night's service. They spent their down time weaving bracelets on a loom out of colorful rubber bands. 
And then on Sunday (and a few days during the week) Allie got to hang out with her two friends Emma and Annie who were also on spring break this week.

These girls love to play pretend and build forts. In addition to playing, they also helped deliver some books to a local elementary school FHC-South Park did a book drive for. This week we were also doing TONS of prep for Easter. We pull off this massive interactive Easter exhibit for our elementary schoolers each year and so the girls pitched in and helped set up the displays. It just looks like a super huge mess right now, but I will post some pics of the finished product. :)


Quality Treat Time
After all our hard work setting up at two of FHC's campuses, I treated Allie to a TCBY date. :)



Family time
At home this week, Allie helped me finish up the last coat or two of paint on our floor table (an old card table with collapsable legs that originally belonged to my great-grandmother). We had a lovely candlelit dinner here one night using my floral Anthro plates. I can't wait to use it again when Al is here this summer. It's just fun to sit on the floor and eat. 


Allie also wanted to practice her own hosting skills, so she threw together a delightful candlelit evening tea for Zach and I. Isn't she the sweetest? 
One of my favorite memories from this week was sitting across from her at this table (before Zach got home), and just chatting about everything from what she'd name her future children to the Bible to life after death. Love this girl and my precious time with her. 

Laser tag
Also this week, our indoor spring break included many games of laser tag. We love playing this game and all leave sweating bullets! It's every man for himself inside the laser tag arena! Ha!


Inside the briefing room. Black light art.
Strapping on vests and guns
 Post game certificates! (As you can tell in this pic, Allie got serious after a few games and started dressing in all black. Lol)
Daddy-daughter date
In addition to laser tag fun, Allie and Zach had a daddy-daughter date while I hosted my discipleship group Monday night. Zach treated Allie to dinner downtown at Vapiano, a hip Italian restaurant Zach and I went to on Valentine's Day
Chicken alfredo and Hawaiian pizza entrees

(Can you tell I wasn't there by the lack of photos? Hahaha) Dinner was followed by dessert at Amelie's, a Parisian cafe known for their desserts and coffee. It's no surprise that Allie brought some super chocolatey dessert home. :)
I am so so SO glad that Zach can have this much needed one-on-one time with Allie and really be an incredible role model in her life. There's no doubt that he pursues her and sacrifices for her, in many ways, and I am so thankful for that and that it's apparent to Allie. 

Family photos
We had our first "official" family photo shoot with my dear friend Lindsay Alexander Tuesday night. Originally scheduled for December, then rescheduled to February, then rescheduled AGAIN for March (all because of us, not because of her :)), we definitely thought the weather would be in our favor this time. It was not. Ha! Tuesday evening was a windy, overcast, 50 something degree evening, but we all braved it and I think she got some great shots. Prior to the shoot, Allie got her hair cut and styled by the lovely Mary Ellen Arnold. Allie loves having her hair curled so I wanted her to have a special 'do for the shoot. It's no surprise that she loooved it and couldn't stop marveling at her gorgeous hair. 
Mary Ellen added a soft, loose braid on one side, held in place by a burlap bow with a rose-colored pearl. 
Ready for pics!
I'll post a ton of our photos when we have them all, but for now, here is a sneak peak. 
Family friends
Wednesday night we spent grilling out with our dear friends the Carson's. We treasure their friendship so much and incredibly positive, Christ-centered influence in Allie's life. Seriously, some great memories were made sitting around their living room chatting, laughing, singing, and talking about Jesus. 
 
Celebrating Jesus
Thursday was Maundy Thursday. FHC-South Park always does a service of darkness this night, celebrating Christ's sacrifice on the cross. This year, not only did Zach lead worship, but Allie read the scripture passage! Zach and I were so incredibly proud of her for standing up on the big stage, alone, in front of probably 1200 people, and not missing a beat! Way to go Al! :)

Pre-service pic
It's go time!
Proud proud moment for the daddy. 
Good Friday with David
On Friday, we went to visit our dear friend David Kuo at hospice. David, who has been fighting brain cancer for over a decade, is such an incredible friend of my whole family. I'll write more about him later on, but it was a treasure to go hold his hand and spend some time with him in his final days. 

So even though it was a slower week than what we had planned, my favorite moments are yet again the ones not caught on camera. Family devos, precious conversations over candlelit dinners, visiting DK as a family, playing a million rounds of "Would you rather" with Allie, and watching Zach and Allie play, laugh, tell jokes, and prank each other. Seriously, these two have such a special relationship it's crazy! They are father and daughter, but also great friends. I love seeing the balance grow and change as Allie gets older. 
Zach will be in Alabama in April to escort Allie at her Acteens Coronation Ceremony, we are both planning to be back in Alabama in May to have a few days with Allie and my MIL, and then Allie is here for 5 weeks in the summer! We can't wait! Family time is the best time!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Salina the Brave

Last weekend I had the privilege of having my dear friend Salina as a guest in our home. Salina, previously a Charlotte resident, but now an Atlanta resident (for the third time, don't ask) was here because I was putting her to work. You see in addition to being my friend, Salina is our Kids Worship Consultant at FHC. Yes, such a thing exists and yes, such a thing is soooo necessary. Gosh, Salina has brought such incredible change to this area of our ministry and I am so grateful! It warms my heart each month as I see our awesome leaders truly teach kids the meaning and purpose behind singing praise songs to God and dancing around. :) I am honored to lead this area of our ministry and fully realize the huge responsibility of leading 600 elementary schoolers who need to know the God of the universe and why we should ask his son Jesus into our hearts and worship him with our lives.

Anyways, having Salina here was such a breath of fresh air for me. Gosh I love my friend. She's beautiful, smart, passionate, creative, hilarious, athletic, determined, sensitive, a fantastic writer (her blog), a musician and worship leader, and just a fabulous friend and kindred spirit who is near and dear to my heart.
Her husband Clark (pictured with her above) is also a worship leader and incredibly talented musician. Clark is one of the kindest, most gentle-hearted men I've ever met. Zach and I love these two so much and we were beyond bummed when they left our city, our neighborhood (yeah, we were neighbors too!), and our church family back in the fall for greener pastures in Atlanta. Actually, greener pastures is almost quite literally where they are in Powder Springs, GA. Ha!

Anyways, in addition to all her previously stated awesomeness, Salina is a rockstar mom of two little ones - Salem 4 and Mia 2. Beyond her regular supermom powers, I am watching Salina throw on her cape and stand tall in another area as her son Salem was recently diagnosed with Aspergers. The discovery of this and subsequent dealing with this has not been easy, but watching Salina do it with such grace, laughter, vulnerability, and bravery leaves me to believe that she in fact does have real super powers, the kind that can only come from letting God move and change her heart. Her determination to recover Salem from this syndrome is truly inspiring and I admire her even more for how she continually and sacrificially puts her child's needs first.

Salina, I love you and when I look at your life I see such bravery, bravery to handle whatever God sends your way with a smile on your face. Thank you for being yet another testimony of Jesus' transformational power.  I am so grateful God brought our husband's paths together so that we could be lifelong friends. Knowing you makes me feel like one of the richest people in the world because with friends like you, who could ask for anything more? :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Recent Recipes

Lately I have been craving these two recipes. I want them like everyday! Both are gluten and dairy free which is right up my alley.

Breakfast Casserole
I love breakfast casseroles. You know, the ones that have a crescent roll crust and are filled with sausage, egg, and cheesy goodness. For obvious reasons I can't really eat this so I've found the perfect healthy alternative.
Ingredients:

  • 1 lbs. breakfast sausage (can use pork, but I use turkey)
  • 1 large sweet potato or 2 medium to small, diced
  • 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 green onion, diced (I actually used 4-5 stalks)
  • 10-12 large eggs (I used 11)
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9 x 13" glass baking dish with coconut oil or whatever you choose. Set aside.
2. Prepare veggies. Dice sweet potatoes, chop spinach, and dice up green onion. Set aside separately.
3. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Remove sausage from casing and add sausage to skillet. Cook until browned and cooked through. Remove sausage from skillet keeping the sausage grease. Add sweet potatoes to grease and cook until tender, stir occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Remove sweet potatoes and place in bowl. Toss sweet potatoes with spinach, green onion, sausage, and salt and pepper until well combined. Place the mixture into your prepared 9 x 13 glass dish, spreading evenly across the bottom of the dish.
5. In another large bowl, whisk eggs. Pour egg mixture evenly over the sausage and veggie mixture in the dish.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Cut into squares and serve. Makes 8 - 10 servings. (I cut mine into 15 squares.)


Zucchini Fritters
I also am all about some zucchini fritters. I think it's because the taste reminds me of Egg Foo Young. Anybody ever eat that entree at a Chinese restaurant besides me? :) It's been years since I've had it and looking back, it was rather disgusting with all those weird "pork" pieces and that thick gravy-like duck sauce or whatever it was. Anyways, these zucchini fritters are delish and much less suspicious than Egg Foo Young.
Ingredients:

  • 2 medium size zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/4 cup flour (I use gluten free)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I use 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt for dipping (I don't use this)


Directions:
1. Peel the zucchini, carrot, potato, and onion. Shred all the vegetables using a cheese grater or a food processor fitted with a shredding attachment. (Note: Grating the onion = much eye pain. Get ready to cry your face off. It's so much worse than cutting up an onion!) Place in a strainer and let sit for 10 minutes. Press down on the vegetables, allowing excess water to drain off. I used a salad spinner and spun the vegetables dry which worked great.
2. Pour shredded vegetables into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the flour and salt over the shredded vegetables. Toss to coat. Add eggs and mix well until combined As you work, if you have a lot of excess moisture, drain it off.
3. Heat 1 cup (or 1/2 cup) vegetable oil in a 12" non-stick pan until it reaches 350 degrees. Drop spoonfuls into the oil and let cook, flipping to brown both sides.
4. Once they are cooked to your desired doneness (we like them crispy) set them on paper towels to drain off excess oil. I also pat the tops with paper towels to really remove as much oil as possible.  


Prosciutto and Pear snack
And last but not least, this little delightful snack. Super quick and easy. Simply slice up a pear or apple and top with a slice of prosciutto, goat cheese, and lightly drizzle with honey. (Yes I know this has dairy in it, but I occasionally treat myself with it. So there.)
I am always on the hunt for more gluten free, dairy free, preservative free, nutrition full meals. If you have a favorite that meets this criteria, please share! I love expanding my recipe book!