Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vinyasa and Lou Ferrigno

Yesterday I was feeling a little sick of running, feeling a little more adventurous: "why not try a yoga class?" So I went with my roommate Lindsay, thinking ok this won't be too bad, but I've only done it once. Keep in mind that was back in college and I giggled the whole time because I was looking at the row of football players in the front trying to do the moves wondering "did coach make them do this or is it a dare?" So I don't think that really counts. Well, get to class, roll my cute mat down and of course the instructor asks if this is anyone's first time. I quietly raise my hand and receive the oh so encouraging response: "really? This is your first time? You mean you've never, ever done yoga before? Wow." I keep shaking my head as everyone in the class stares at me in utter disbelief. The encouragement continues with "well, you probably won't be able to do all the moves, so you can sit some of these out and watch the others." The little voice of positivity (or pride) in my head is going "but what if I'm a natural?" There were definitely some hard moves for the skeptics out there. Let's just say doing a backbend took me back to elementary school tumbling classes, except my teacher didn't make me hold it for 3 minutes and do it repeatedly. Then there was a fun move where you throw your legs back behind you to go into a headstand-- but not with too much force, because we are to be graceful and full of strength and with our hearts open. Yeah, somehow didn't get that first try, so my teacher came over and asked me if I wanted to attempt it. I respond stubbornly "of course I want to try, I just don't know how to do it." So then she grabs my legs and throws them back to where now my body is balancing on my head and my forearms. Awesome. That didn't hurt at all. I'm pretty sure every muscle in my body was shaking but I was determined to show off to the teach that I had raw talent. I don't think she was that impressed as I rocked back and forth struggling not to fall over, and now I have muscles aching in places I didn't know could. I definitely learned "downward facing dog" and my favorite phrase: "now, just open your heart. Yes, that's it." I'll probably go back, but not going to start holding crystals or listening to Yanni anytime soon. Let's fast forward now to this morning when I went for a jog on the Hudson. I wore my green tee from CSU Southeast Bowling Tourney and I did infact heed the warning to wash it before wearing. However, I do not have a machine, so I hand washed it. Have learned a life lesson that this is not the same thing. When I took it off, I looked like the incredible hulk. I had to take 3 showers to get the green off. Maybe exercising tomorrow isn't in the cards.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


That is how I would describe my day. Nothing had gone “right” and there was a huge disappointment I experienced earlier where I felt like a total failure. I was pretty sad and couldn't wait to get home. So needless to say I was kind of grumpy as I am leaving a packed- like-sardines subway. I exit and move towards the stairs heading into the blistering cold when these two people in front of me suddenly stop. In my mind I’m thinking “what is wrong with you people? Don’t you know the rules(aka….the rules I’ve invented)?” I literally almost tried to shove my way around them when I hesitated and I took a closer look. It was a young preteen girl and her grandmother. The girl had asked her grandma for money, which she then in turn gave to the homeless woman at the top of the stairs- the one who I was so willing to rush by in my urgent “need” to get home and decompress. Talk about feeling like a jerk! I tried to tell them that it was inspiring to see them give to someone in need, but they were French and the only French that was running through my mind was the lyrics to Frere Jacques. So I didn’t get into the conversation I’d hoped with them, but rather an interesting conversation with God and my own selfish heart. Then about an hour later, I head to small group. What are we studying this evening? Oh the passage of the Good Samaritan. It hit me again- wow I am the Levite who often passes on the other side of the street, who is so caught up in my own little world that I forget to love my neighbor as myself. I started to look at this passage from another angle. Every other time I’ve read it, I always assumed the Levite and priest were thinking “I’m so much better than this guy. I have my act together. I would never associate of someone of this status….” But what if they were actually thinking “oh gosh- someone should really help this guy. Too bad I’m in such a hurry. I’m going to hope and pray someone stops.” I sadly have to admit I can often identify with the latter- the “good intentions gal.” While I do think this passage can point towards homeless people, I wonder if it could go much further and extend to anyone who is in deep need- physical, emotional, or spiritual. Am I praying to be aware and in tune to the needs of those around me, or am I caught up in a bubble consumed with self? Anyways, just some thoughts today that I thought I’d share.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzards, Black Holes, and Six Degrees

"New York won't be that bad. I'll be fine," said the naive, pre-NYC winterized version of myself back in July. Then last week happened when my beloved L train broke down and I had to walk 20 minutes back to my apartment. It was 6 degrees outside. Unfamiliar thoughts flooded my mind. Have I ever been in single digit temperature before? Could I have frostbite?.....because I seriously can't feel my toes. Desiring to be a quick learner, here are some of the observations I have made thus far.

1. Walk, don't drive. Yeah........a credit card to help the windshield isn't really going to cut it here.

2. Proper gear is essential. I think the puffy coat is right up there with the screwdriver as one of the world's best inventions. I've even tested my cute wool coat to see how it compares. It doesn't come close! So even if I look like this.......

at least I'll be warm and toasty wearing my belted sleeping bag. It is after all gortex!

3. Icy Black Holes are lurking everywhere. You see an innocent puddle and think "oh it only looks about one inch deep." Beware. This is exactly what it wants you to believe right before you foolishly step into it and your entire boot disappears into the arctic abyss as you wonder, "is this liquid nitrogen?"

4. Eyes open and on the ground. What does snow do? Melt. Yes, Bon Jovi, it is indeed slippery when wet. Not looking I attempted to exit the subway car yesterday and stepped into a puddle. I ended up literally doing a split.... but don't worry I grabbed the pole and swung around while holding my position. Oh yes, equally scandalous and humiliating. But I held my head high, not meeting a single person in the eye as I composed myself and managed to say "whoopsy." Oh yes, that is the word which came to mind and I uttered. Awesome.

Spring come hither. I am ready for your warmth.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chicken Soup.......A decade later's embarrassing to admit, but I totally had this conversation when I was a senior in high school with my youth minister's wife. "Yeah, I don't really enjoy reading the Bible. It's too confusing and boring. What I really get into is this book called Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. It's filled with all these heartwarming stories. I just love that." Now I'm not trying to knock the good ole CS book, and the fact that it has evolved into a whole series targeting "the grandmother's soul, the horse-lover's soul, and even the nascar lover's soul" (not kidding), but there was indeed some immaturity on my part thinking that there was even a comparison to God's Word.

I was talking about this story with a friend yesterday and the extremely cheesy title made me start thinking about the concept behind it: Comfort food for the soul. Putting my cool factor aside, it made me ponder, what are the passages in scripture that I would more or less refer to as my comfort food? The ones that I may have read a thousand times but yet they often bring out something new........ the ones that I never tire of reading........the ones that I distinctly hear God speaking to me? One of mine is Romans 8. The chapter is filled with so much that's it's kind of humorous to summarize in a sentence, but if I had to pick one thing that gets my attention most- it's the powerful imagery of God's love and commitment. I need that and I never tire of hearing it.

Sometimes there's this crazy notion that we have to discover something new in order to be interesting or to be considered deep or even to be worth sharing. Fresh insights are wonderful, but aren't we often drawn to the things that are tattered and worn and become richer over time?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week two of New Years Intentions

So....... I am still sticking with it. I mean, it's been two whole weeks! What a little perseverer I am! So, here is a really quick, easy, great comfort food dish that's guaranteed to warm you......especially when it's literally 5 degrees outside.

Chicken and Dumplings

1 3 - to 4-pound rotisserie chicken, meat shredded (I used 3 and it was fine)
1 10-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream-of-mushroom soup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 10-count tube refrigerated biscuits (I used 8 and it turned out fine)

Heat oven to 400° F.

Combine the chicken, vegetables, soup, salt, pepper, and 3/4 cup water in a large bowl. Transfer the mixture to an oven-safe casserole, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, place the biscuits on a baking sheet and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove both the casserole and the biscuits from the oven. Uncover the casserole, place the biscuits on top, and serve. Voila'!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Morning and Evening

This December I decided it was time for a new devotional book, and found Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. Just like the title, there is a thought to start your day and one close it out. I highly recommend it. I specifically needed to hear tonight's entry, and thought perhaps others might as well.

Jesus will not let His people forget His love. If all the love they have enjoyed should be forgotten, He will visit them with fresh love. "Do you forget My cross?" says He, "I will cause you to remember it; for at my table I will manifest Myself anew to you. Do you forget what I did for you in the council-chamber of eternity? I will remind you of it, for you shall need a counsellor, and shall find Me ready at your call." Mothers do not let their children forget them. If the boy has gone to Australia, and does not write home, his mother writes-"Has John forgotten his mother?" Then there comes back a sweet epistle, which proves that the gentle reminder was not in vain. So is it with Jesus, He says to us, "Remember Me," and our response if "We will remember Thy love." We will remember Thy love and its matchless history. It is ancient as the glory which Thou hadst with the Father before the world was. We remember, O Jesus, Thine eternal love when Thou didst become our Surety, and espouse us as Thy betrothed. We remember the love which suggested the sacrifice of Thyself, the love which, until the fulness of time, mused over that sacrifice of Thyself, the love which, until the fulness of time, mused over that sacrifice, and long for the hour whereof in the volume of the book it was written of Thee, "Lo I come." We remember Thy holy life, from the manger of Bethlehem to the garden of Gethsemane. We track Thee from the cradle to the grave- for every word and deed of Thine was love- and we rejoice in Thy love, which death did not exhaust; Thy love which shone resplendent in Thy resurrection. We remember that burning fire of love which will never let Thee hold Thy peace until Thy chosen ones be all safely housed, until Zion be glorified, and Jerusalem settled on her everlasting foundations of light and love in heaven.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Becoming Julia

So........It's not very realistic for me to aspire to become a Julia Child apprentice, but a girl can dream right? After watching Julie and Julia I was a little inspired that a commoner like myself could attain greatness. I mean there are so many similarities with me and Julie hair, writes on a blog, only a matter of time before I have millions of followers and a book deal, right? But with the New Year I decided I wouldn't make "resolutions", rather I would have a few New Years "intentions." So there you go...... new year's intention #1: cook more (translation: one challenging meal a week). Now, you must know "challenging" is a relative word, since I'm a grilled cheese master and spaghetti maker. So you probably won't be getting beef bourguignon recipe from me anytime soon, but here is a recipe for roasted corn and shrimp chowder I made the other night.

Nothing goes to waste in this recipe, since the shrimp shells and corn cobs make a delicate stock for the soup.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)
1.5 pounds unpeeled large shrimp
4 ears corn
Cooking spray
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
5 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig (or you can do what I did and use 1/4 tsp dried thyme)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup half-and-half

Peel and devein shrimp, reserving shells. Coarsely chop shrimp. Cover shrimp and chill. (this is the sucky part of the job- or I'm just really really slow. Part of me felt like I was back in biology class deveining the shrimp. Have fun).

Remove kernels from ears of corn to measure 2 cups, and set aside. Reserve the corn cobs.

Heat a stockpot coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp shells and onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until shells turn pink. Add corn cobs, water, bay leaf, and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Drain the shrimp stock into a sieve over a bowl; discard solids.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add corn kernels; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Combine sherry and flour, stirring with a whisk to form a slurry. Add slurry to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add shrimp stock, salt, and pepper; bring to a simmer. Cook 4 minutes or until bisque starts to thicken, stirring frequently. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Stir in half-and-half; serve immediately and enjoy!!! You will feel like you are in a restaurant!
Let me know if you make it!