Thursday, December 30, 2010

BHG Recipe: Gingerbread Tumble

Gingerbread Tumble Recipe

I found this recipe on the website for Better Homes and Gardens. I'm planning to make it for our New Year's Eve party. I hope it turns out well. Fingers crossed and Happy New Year!

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
2-3 tsp grated fresh ginger OR 1/2-1 tsp ground ginger
1 box (14 oz) gingerbread mix
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
9 small pears; peeled, cored, and halved OR 3 cans (16 oz) pear halves, drained

1. In a bowl, combine softened vanilla ice cream with ginger. Cover and freeze 4 hours or overnight.
2. Prepare and bake gingerbread mix according to package directions using the 9x9x2-inch pan option. Cool. Cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch chunks.
3.  In a 12-inch skillet combine sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Carefully add pears, stirring to coat. Cook and stir an additional 8 to 10 minutes for fresh pears or 3 minutes for canned pears.
4. To assemble, place gingerbread in a 3-quart au gratin dish or oval casserole. Top with scoops of ice cream and pears. Drizzle with half of the sauce in skillet. Pass remaining sauce. Serve immediately. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Premature Ovarian Failure Clinical Research Study

The Center for Human Reproduction in New York City is conducting a clinical research trial using DHEA to help lower FSH and restore some ovarian function to women who have been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure and have a FSH level of 40 or higher. You don't have to live in NYC to participate. The trial consists of taking a pill (either the medication or a placebo) for 4 months and having blood work done intermittently to monitor changes in hormone levels. The side effects of the medication are minimal and include oily skin and acne (if you are already prone to it) and some hair loss (again, if you are already prone to that). Most women who take the medication do not experience any side effects at all. Participants receive the medication and lab work at no cost. You can contact them via their website ( for more information.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Since this is my 100th post (woo hoo!) I wanted to do something special. But this sermon really spoke to me so I thought that I would share it with all of you for my 100th post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

The following sermon was written by the Reverend Scott Walters of Christ Episcopal Church and is published here with his permission.

There’s a difference between ‘asked for’ signs and ‘looked for’ signs. And we can explore this distinction in the life and work of one important religious figure from our own time. I’m referring, of course to the eminent priest, clairvoyant, Saturday Night Live character, and Dennis Campbell look alike, Fr. Guido Sarducci.

In case you missed it, Guido Sarducci returned to public life this October when he offered the benediction at the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on the Washington D.C. Mall. And during his meandering prayer, he pointed out to God that since there are so many religions in the world, it’s kind of hard for us humans to figure out which one is the right one. So he asked God to send a sign. Fr. Guido would recite the names of the world’s religions, and then, he suggested, God might send a flock of swans to fly overhead when he got to God’s favorite.

Unfortunately the swans never showed up. So the prayer didn’t manage to cull the herd down to a single true faith. But Guido Sarducci’s swan request is a good example of the asked for sign. We ask God to send us a sign to prove that something is so.

Now, I was also watching about 20 years ago when Fr. Sarducci appeared on the David Letterman Show. As I recall, he was plugging his wildly unpopular instructional video, “Bocce Ball My Way”. And I have no idea why I remember this.

But the interview took place in December, so Fr. Guido also made several very specific predictions about the coming year in politics, sports, and the lives of several celebreties. After Fr. Guido finished his prophecies, Letterman asked when he first realized that he possessed these strange psychic powers.

He said, “Well, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, I went to the supermarket with my mother. And as we were walking back to the car, my mother said, ‘Guido! I don’t have my pocketbook!’ And I said, ‘Well, Mom, maybe it’s back there in the supermarket.’ And when we went back inside, there it was sitting right beside the cash register.”

The supermarket miracle was not an asked for sign. It was a sign that had to be noticed. It was a looked for sign, one that clearly proved Guido Sarducci’s powers of clairvoyance, of course.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two Become One

This post is going to be a bit of a non sequitur for me, but whatever. Here's the context of where this post is coming from. Yesterday I got into a very uncomfortable conversation with a student from my human anatomy and physiology class. Several students and myself were standing around and talking after our final exam about a variety of things. Eventually the conversation arrived at me explaining why I decided to do nursing school instead of medical school. I'm not going to list all my reasons again because I've written on this before.

Anyway, this girl from my class starts arguing with me about how I shouldn't put my dreams aside for some man and that I should just go for medical school--regardless of the fact that it would very likely mean James and I would have to split our household for a period of time--that my career should be my first priority and how could I do that to myself... blah blah blah.

I looked her straight in the eye and said, "Are you married?" She replied, "No, but I live with my boyfriend of [however many] years. And there's always other fish in the sea. I mean, I love him and everything but just because you're married doesn't mean you can't still have two separate careers and two separate lives."

Now I'm pretty sure that this girl doesn't read my blog, but I think it would be cathartic for me to write this out anyway. I will sometimes talk a big game, but I'm not an openly confrontational person like I used to be when I was younger and had a hotter temper. As much as she upset me, telling her what I really thought and how I really felt would not have done anything to reduce the tension in the room. We simply agreed to disagree and (thanks to a third party who was also trying to ease the tension) that different lifestyles work for different people. But you can file the following counter-argument under things-I-wish-I'd-said-if-I-didn't-have-so-much-restraint:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Addicted to Christmas

Picture this scene...

It's Christmas Eve. It's snowing outside. There's a fire crackling in the fireplace, casting a warm, orange glow throughout the family room. The Christmas tree in the corner glitters and sparkles with ornaments, garland, and lights. The gifts underneath have been lovingly wrapped in shiny paper and ribbons. Sitting on the coffee table is a big plate of chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread men. The family is snuggled together on the couch watching a classic Christmas movie and the pets are curled up on the floor fast asleep.

How does that scene make you feel? Warm and fuzzy inside? Is this the ideal you're trying to achieve when you decorate your home for the Christmas season? If the decorations, food, and TV specials make you feel good like this, then it stands to reason that the earlier you get started, the sooner you'll get to these warm and fuzzy feelings, right? Then you, my friend, are just like me. You are addicted to Christmas. You start by decorating at the beginning of December. Then maybe the next year you start right after Thanksgiving. Then maybe a few years later you put up your tree as soon as the Halloween candy is gone. Sound familiar?

Hello. My name is Jenny and I am addicted to Christmas. The first Christmas that James and I actually spent together after we got married (he was deployed for our first Christmas), I desperately begged him to let me put up our Christmas tree and lace the exterior of the house with strings of lights while everyone else was planning Thanksgiving dinner. He finally gave in and let me decorate on Black Friday instead of going out to shop for hot deals.

Christmas EXPLODED all over our house. Tree with lights, garland, and decorations. Evergreen garland and red ribbon on our fireplace and over every doorway. Stockings for us, puppy stocking for Piper, and kitty stockings for Miranda and Ariel. Wreaths on ALL exterior doors and windows. Christmas kitchen linens and china. Christmas hand towels in the bathrooms. I could go on and on...

I watched EVERY Christmas movie that came on TV and DVR'd the ones I missed so I could watch them later. In retrospect, I think I was subconsciously trying to make up for having to spend our first Christmas apart. We hosted a fantastic Christmas cocktail party and spent lots of time with family and friends. But by the time Christmas Day actually arrived, I was so burnt out and sick of Christmas that I couldn't get our tree down fast enough. Something just wasn't right.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The First Thanksgiving

General Thanksgiving
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:" 

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

George Washington

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things You Didn't Know Could Harm Your Pet

This past weekend we spent our Friday night at the Animal Hospital with Molly. While we were out getting some frozen yogurt (yes, even though it's November we still like going to the mix-your-own froyo place), Molly got hold of her bottle of Proin (for her incontinence) and ate almost all of what was left in the bottle. We did the math and discovered that 11 pills were unaccounted for. The normal dose is a half-tablet, twice daily. So long story short, we ended up going to the Animal Hospital, Molly was admitted overnight, treated, and went home early the next morning. She's going to be fine, but it was a VERY tense and scary night for us. Luckily, we already had the phone number on hand for our local after-hours vet and they were able to coordinate with a toxicologist from the Pet Poison Hot Line to determine Molly's treatment protocol.

If you are a pet parent and don't know where your emergency vet is, find out. If you don't have their number, get it and save it as a contact in your cell phone. Listed below are some important numbers to have on hand in case your pet eats something toxic:

Pet Poison Hot Line

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Home Again's Emergency Medical Care Hot Line

Additionally, here is a list of 101 things that can harm pets, courtesy of the ASPCA's pamphlet from the animal hospital. And if you think your dog would NEVER eat some of this stuff, recall the last time you saw him/her eating poo or rolling in something completely disgusting. I know mine do. Dogs don't always make sense. That's just part of being a dog.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Apple and Pecan Cinnamon-Swirl Muffins

This recipe is a bit of an experiment. I've been craving sweets especially intensely for the past few weeks, fueled primarily by my new obsession: the cupcake shop downtown. This bakery puts out some of the most delicious cupcakes I have ever tasted in my life. They make eight hundred gazillion flavors, but so far I've only tried five. I go in at least once a week to try something new.

But I digress! So I have the day off from class and I've been studying the muscular system for tomorrow's anatomy and physiology exam all day. Studying always makes me crave sweets. I'm pretty sure it's all psychological, but I see no reason not to indulge today.

I found a box mix of "cinnamon swirl quick bread" and suddenly became inspired. What if instead of quick bread, I made muffins? Simple enough. What if instead of using vegetable oil, I used applesauce? How healthy! What if I chopped up a Granny Smith apple, added it to the batter, and topped it all off with some roasted pecans? Yummy!

The Ingredients - As it turns out, our applesauce had mold in it. So I ended up using vegetable oil after all. Oh well!

The Process
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or 325 if you have a convection oven like me) and grease/flour the pan, per the instructions on the box.

Slice and core a Granny Smith apple, then chop slices to desired size.

Combine quick bread mix, water, applesauce, and eggs per the instructions on the box. Fold in chopped apples.

Fill muffin cups to 1/3 with batter, top with cinnamon mix, and carefully swirl with a knife.

Pour remaining batter into muffin cups until 2/3 full each, sprinkle with cinnamon mix, and top with pecans.

Bake for about 24 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan for 10 minutes and enjoy!

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

The Paradox of Christ

The following sermon was written by Father Michael Cassabon of Saint Patrick's Catholic Church and is published here with his permission.

In many ways, Jesus’ teaching is a paradox.

He says, if you want to have life, then you must die to yourself. He teaches, if you want to be the first, then you must become the last and servant of all. And in today’s Gospel, he teaches his disciples: if you wish to be exalted on high, then you must humble yourself.

These are paradoxes, but they are important for us to understand in our minds and hearts and to live out in our lives.

Jesus teaches in these paradoxes because it is a reflection of his own life: He is the Son of God who became one of us in all things but sin…he traded his throne of glory for the humiliation of the Cross because he loved us. For a time, Jesus leaves the realm of glory to share in our suffering, in our darkness, and in our loneliness so that he can assure us that we are not alone in our pain and grief. He humbles himself; he associates with the lowly and the outcast, so that those on the margins of life can be reminded that they are beloved by God and that nothing can separate them from divine love.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Willow House!

A very dear friend of mine, Barbie, has started her own business as a Willow House consultant. Barbie is amazing and the Willow House product lines are amazing. You can check out the stand-alone page here on my blog or you can go directly to Barbie's Willow House site.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Easy Roasted Potatoes

Here is a quick and easy recipe that I make ALL the time. I actually just made this recipe last night, but didn't think to snap a picture before we scarfed them all down. I'll try to remember to photograph them next time.

potatoes (recently I used red potatoes, but you can use whatever kind you like)
olive oil
minced garlic
salt and pepper

1. Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces. You can do them smaller or larger, whichever you prefer, but keep in mind that smaller pieces will cook faster.
2. Put potato pieces in a bowl and toss with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic (or more if you like), 1 teaspoon of rosemary (or more if you like), and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Once the potatoes are well coated, spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at about 400 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.


And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

The Mud Run

A few weekends ago, James and I ran in a local "mud run" with several friends to help raise money for the local parks and recreations department. The concept behind the event is that (1) people go in costume, (2) the "three-ish" mile course involves some obstacles, (3) and the run ends in a 300-foot mud pit. James didn't dress in costume, but the rest of us did (sort-of). We were quite surprised by how "out there" the costumes of the other participants were. So we're planning to go again next year (because it was so much fun) with a bigger group so we can do some kind of awesome group costume. I can't wait. Anyway, here are a few of the pictures from after we went through the mud pit.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Twenty Questions about the Episcopal Church

The following is a pamphlet published by the Forward Movement. It is the 12th printing of the Revised Edition, 2007. 

1. What is the Episcopal Church?
It is the continuance of the Church of England, brought to these shores by the first settlers and reorganized as the Episcopal Church in 1785 after the Revolution by which the colonies in America won their independence from the mother country. After the Revolution it became self-governing and self-sustaining. Today it is known as the Episcopal Church. 

2. Is that when the Episcopal Church began?
No, it did not begin then. It took its new title at that time; but it was the same church that had been here from the founding of the American colonies in the seventeenth century. Those colonists who were members of the Church of England brought their church with them. Our church is a daughter church of the Church of England. 

3. Was the Church of England founded by Henry VIII?
No, it was not. The Church of England has a long history. It was part of the Catholic Church before there were any divisions in the church at all. For several centuries after 644 A. D. it did, in common with all western Christendom, recognize the pope as chief bishop; but at the reformation it rejected the claims of the pope to singular, universal authority. It did not, however, reject the catholic and apostolic faith which it had always held. It kept the historic catholic creeds and the three-fold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons. The reason our church is called Episcopal is that it maintains the ancient episcopal order in its ministry. "Episcopal" comes from the Greek word episcopos, meaning bishop. 

4. But how can you be both catholic and protestant?
The word "protestant" was used in 1785 to distinguish our church from the Church of Rome, because of the English reformation in the sixteenth century. Yet this does not mean that we are simply one of the many protestant churches deriving from the reformation. Those made a greater break with the past than our church did. "Protestant" is not opposed to "catholic." The world "catholic" really means "universal," and we are certainly part of the universal church. It also refers to the ancient catholic faith as expressed in the creeds - and we hold that. So we rightly claim to be both catholic and protestant. 

5. What is the Anglican Communion?
This is the name given to all the churches throughout the world descended from the English church that are still in communion with it and with each other. As the British Empire spread, so did the Church of England, the established church of the realm. Other churches overseas were begun by the missionaries of daughter churches such as the Episcopal Church. Today the Anglican Communion consists of some 78 million members of more than forty national churches like our own. It is found on all the continents, with particular strength in Africa. Members of these churches are known either as Episcopalians or Anglicans because of their common origin and common heritage. Each national church or province is self-governing. International communications are maintained through the Anglican Consultative Council with offices in London, and through a once-a-decade meeting of bishops known as the Lambeth Conference. 

6. How is the Episcopal Church governed?
There are three principal levels of organization or expressions of the church's life: the local congregation or parish; the diocese, consisting of many parishes in an area under the supervision of a bishop; the national church. In each case, government is a mixture of hierarchy and democracy, with distinct role and privileges for clergy and a strong voice for lay persons, both men and women. In the congregation, the rector of the parish is chosen by the vestry for the people, with the approval of the bishop; and rector and vestry together are responsible for the work of the parish subject to the constitution and canons of the diocese and the national church. Each diocese had an annual convention or council with the clergy and elected lay deputies from the congregations to share with their bishop the work of the church on the local, diocesan level. At the national level, the chief priest and pastor is the presiding bishop. The highest governing body is the General Convention of the church which meets every three years to deal with the business of the church and to make its laws or canons. This convention is composed of two houses, one of bishops, the other of elected clerical and lay deputies; legislation has to be passed in both houses. For carrying on the work between conventions, an executive council is elected which is representative of the whole church, and  of which the presiding bishop is chair. 

7. Is a bishop's function simply administrative?
By no means. The bishop ordains men and women to ministry, confirms, and is pastor to all clergy and people. This is the primary work; all the rest is oversight of the diocese. 

8. What are the roles of the laity and other ministers?
The Episcopal Church teaches that lay members are also ministers called to share in the ministry of Christ in the world. Those ordained or set aside for special ministries in and on behalf of the church include bishops, priests, and deacons. Bishops are successors to the apostles and oversee the diocese. Priests usually are spiritual leaders of local congregations. The word "priest" comes from presbyter, meaning elder. Deacons usually assist priests and have a special ministry to the poor and the sick. The word "deacon" means servant. 

9. What are the doctrines of the Episcopal Church?
The main doctrines of the Episcopal Church are contained in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. These creeds were written in the days of the undivided church, and the Nicene Creed has been the standard confession of catholic faith ever since. Beside the beliefs expressed in the creeds, the Episcopal Church holds to other catholic beliefs and practices found in The Book of Common Prayer. It is this Prayer Book, in fact, that gives the authoritative doctrinal standards of the Episcopal Church. See, for example, "An Outline of the Faith," beginning on page 843 of the The Book of Common Prayer.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Curious George

The following sermon was written by the Reverend Kate Alexander of Christ Episcopal Church and is published here with her permission. 

Each night, my two boys and I engage in a familiar routine: bath, book, bed, the “3 B’s.” For the most part, the “3 B’s” are non-negotiable, but the one variable we allow in the routine is that second “B”: book. They get to hear the story of their choice. Books about pirates, dump trucks, and cats in hats are standard fare, but now that we’ve been in the Halloween season, the top choice lately, and I mean every night, has been Curious George Goes to a Costume Party. It’s a typical tale of that inquisitive little monkey who can’t help but get into trouble. But despite his propensity for making messes, George is somehow always able to bring joy to those who witness his shenanigans. Mix mummies, skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, and ghosts into that timeless storyline and you’ve got a couple of happy kids.

On Halloween, Curious George and his friend, the man with the yellow hat, went to a costume party. Unfortunately, George didn’t have a costume. So the host, Mrs. Gray, sent him upstairs to look for a one in her box of dress-up clothes. To his great delight, he found a cowboy outfit. But when he put it on, he wasn’t tall enough to see himself in the mirror. So he stood on the bed, but he still couldn’t see. George was curious. What if he bounced on the bed to get higher? He started bouncing, higher and higher, and forgot about the mirror in all the fun. He fell off the bed with a loud thud, and got tangled up in a tablecloth. George heard the people downstairs gasp, ‘What was that? Was that a ghost?’ A ghost?! George did not want to meet up with a ghost alone. He dashed out of the room and down the hall, covered in the tablecloth, and slid down the banister into the arms of his friend. Soon everyone realized that the ghost coming down the stairs was not a ghost after all, but a monkey. Everyone clapped and cheered. They liked George’s Halloween trick.

This charming story has delighted children around Halloween for decades. Just about all of the Curious George books have a similar plot. George’s curiosity gets the best of him, he gets distracted from the task at hand, winds up in trouble, and is eventually forgiven, rescued, and restored to good standing with his friend, the man with the yellow hat. That restoration is always a joyful event, and George is always relieved. The reason this plot line is so successful, is that, it is pretty much true to life. We get distracted, sidetracked, and sometimes wind up in trouble in one way or another. And we know what it feels like to be forgiven, rescued, and restored to good standing. That is always a joyful event.

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month! This year, the Administration for Children and Families, an extension of the Department of Health and Human Services, is focusing on finding ways to "recruit and retain parents for the 115,000 children and youth in foster care waiting for adoptive families." To find out more information about adoption in general, adoption from foster care, or to see some of the children in foster care waiting for adoptive families you can visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway or

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our New Facebook Page

At the suggestion of several adoptive mommy friends, I have created a Facebook page just for our adoption journey. It includes lots more photos than I have the patience to post on this blog as well as some of our answers to the Adoption Spacebook questionnaire. Come check us out!
Our Facebook Page

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

October Adoption Update

I know it's kind of pointless to do an October update at the end of the month, but I've been so busy with school and visiting friends/family all month that I haven't had time to write anything. The only new development on the adoption front is that our new home study is completed and approved. So that is at least one fewer thing to have to worry about or wait on. So now we really are just waiting for a birthmother to find us. Everything else is in place and ready to go. We talked to our agency and we're being put back on the "Featured Families" page because it's been a few months since we were listed there. So, once again, all we can do is sit and wait.....

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

For Eleanor

"Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be. Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above Join with all nature in manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!"

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills;
from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved
and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.

Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep;

The Lord himself watches over you;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand,

So that the sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
it is he who shall keep you safe.

The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in,
from this time forth for evermore.

"Joyful, joyful we adore Thee; God of glory, Lord of love. Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away. Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day."

Mary Eleanor Ballentine 1913-2010

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Shield from Vanity

"It is good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by others even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vanity. When to all outward appearances others give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God, who sees our hearts. Therefore, we ought to root ourselves so firmly in God that we will not need human consolations."

-Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Counting and Measuring

The following sermon was written by the Reverend Scott Walters of Christ Episcopal Church and is published here with his permission.

The poet Billy Collins once noted that “Of all the questions you might want to ask/ about angels, the only one you ever hear/ is how many can dance on the head of a pin.”

The interest in countable or measurable things isn’t limited to those curious medieval theologians who debated about the necessary dimensions of an angelic dance floor. The old question about angels is a question not unlike what the world record is for hot dog eating, which happens to be 59 1/2, buns included, by Joey Chestnut of San Jose, CA. And it’s even kind of similar to the challenge of reciting the number pi out to a further decimal place than anyone else. (Akira Haraguchi broke his old record of 83,431 places by passing 100,000 last year, in case you were wondering.)

In a way, if one happens to believe in angels, it makes sense to wonder how many of them might dance on the head of a pin, because we make sense of our world quite often by counting or weighing or measuring what we hope to comprehend.

Of course we make sense of ourselves by counting and measuring, too. I didn’t realize at the time that I was finding my place in the world when I envied Steve Ruble’s impressive Lego collection, but I was. Wishing I had half of the colorful plastic building blocks that spilled from container after container in Steve’s house just set me on my way to wishing that I had an iPhone 4, could stay in 5 star hotels, buy my wife a 6 karat diamond, and drive a 7 series BMW.

We’re counting all the time in this life. The weary, weary question is “Do we ever add or measure up?”

Prayer of Saint Francis

In honor of the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi, which was celebrated over the weekend.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Someone asked me about this on Facebook, so I thought I would share it here. P90X is a fitness and nutritional program that is built around three 30-day phases. You do a combination of weight lifting, cardio, and yoga (the program comes with like.. 15 DVDs). There are three different levels of the program: Classic, Doubles, and Lean. Classic (what I'm doing now) is the original program. Doubles is designed for professional athletes and involves two workouts on some days (cardio on your own in the morning, P90X in the afternoon). Lean (what we tried to do last year) is really designed more for women who don't especially want to hulk up or for people who aren't quite fit enough to do Classic. Ideally you should be able to do 90 days of Lean, then 90 days of Classic, and then 90 days of Doubles.

The premise of the workout program is this idea of "muscle confusion." Basically, if you always do the same workout all the time you'll 1) get bored pretty quickly and 2) you may plateau as your muscles develop to do the work more efficiently. When your brain sends signals to your muscles to perform an action for the first time, you tend to be less coordinated because you haven't fully developed all the neuromuscular connections required. Over time, if you repeat the action enough, you can actually develop NEW neuromuscular junctions so that you have finer and finer control over the motor movement. For example, I can't do all the fancy footwork with a ball that professional soccer players can because I lack those extra connections. But someone who has been playing soccer since childhood and plays very regularly now literally has more motorneuron connections linking their feet and their brain. This allows them to perform the motor movements involved in soccer footwork with greater precision and less effort.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Easy Ways to Go Green

We've been in our new house for almost two months now and we're really starting to make a lot of progress on our household projects. One of the changes James and I agreed to make with this move was to really put an effort into running a "greener" household. The primary reason, of course, is to be better stewards of our environment. God created this beautiful world and then put it in our care, so it is the responsibility of ALL people to do their part in keeping it as beautiful as we found it. I will also point out that going green can SAVE you green by reducing monthly energy costs, which is especially important to us because the new house is so much bigger than the old one. So, all that being said, here are some of the easy, inexpensive changes we have made for the betterment of our environment and our wallets.

The single easiest way to cut down on your energy bill is to simply use less energy. That means turning the thermostat up during the summer and down during the winter. We're lucky in that our new house has a ceiling fan in every single room except the kitchen and the bathrooms. We've been able to comfortably keep the temperature inside set to about 78 degrees this summer. With the ceiling fans on, it feels very comfortable. On really hot, sunny days I often pulled the curtains/shades to cover the windows. It made the house a little bit dimmer, but it really made a big difference in the temperature.

I don't know how low we'll put the thermostat once it gets to be winter. Typically we'll set it to about 68 degrees, but we may have to do things a little differently now that we're in a two-story house.  We have a separate thermostat controlling the temperature upstairs, but I'm not sure how much of the downstairs heat will rise. We also have a propane fireplace, but I don't know what the energy costs for running it are going to be. We may end up heating some portion of the downstairs with the fireplace. 

This may seem like a "duh" suggestion for anyone blessed enough to have curbside recycling pick-up at their home, but it has been a challenge for us. Since we don't technically live inside the city limits (Again! Argh!), we don't get city trash service and that means no recycling service either. But there are several convenient recycling locations between our house and the base, so we're learning to just drop things of ourselves.

But it's more than simply taking the recyclable materials to the drop-off stations. We've made a serious effort to buy products that come in completely recyclable packaging (or as close as we can get). That sometimes means we can't buy things in individual packaging (like oatmeal) the way we're used to. Instead, we have air-tight glass containers (which are totally adorable, I might add) that we use to store foods in the pantry. So instead of buying a box of oatmeal packets (which can't be recycled because they have a waxy/plastic material inside the paper packets), we buy a box of plain oatmeal and keep the oats stored in the jars. The downside is we can't get flavored oatmeal anymore (they apparently only come in packets), but the upside is that my homemade brown-sugar-and-cinnamon oatmeal is all natural.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Marathon Training

It's that time of year again... marathon season! Yay! Ok, technically there are marathons going on all-year-round. But who in their right mind would want to run a marathon in July or August?? Crazy people, that's who. Personally I prefer races in the late fall or early spring, and sometimes in the winter depending on the location. Really my favorite time to race is in the spring because that means I've been able to do all my training during the cooler part of the year. I haven't run a full marathon since April 2007 when we did the Kentucky Derby Marathon in Louisville. I've been a little gun-shy to do it again since that race experience was so negative. I've done several half-marathons since then and I feel like I'm ready to take on another full. So here we go!

I'm starting my pre-training period this week by starting P90X again. James and I tried to do P90X last year, but fizzled out for a variety of reasons. I'm doing things a little differently this year with the hope that I'll be able to stick to the program or at least do enough of the strength training workouts to regain some of the lean muscle I had when I was dancing in college. In addition, I'm going to double up on my workouts either by running on the days I'm doing upper body strength work or by running (4-5 miles) in place of doing the Kenpo or Cardio workouts... or maybe both. I'll finish the 90 days by the beginning of December and then move into a more specific marathon training program right after in preparation for my March marathon. More on this to come soon.

If you're interested in keeping up with my training, I'll be posting regular updates on the pre-training and formal training periods. You can also go to the "Marathon Training" page for a full schedule of what I have done and plan on doing to prepare. Happy running!

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

September Adoption Update

Wow I can't believe how crazy fast September is going by! How did we get to the middle of the month already? There still isn't much to report on the adoption front. We've had our two visits with our social worker already and our home study should be done very soon. All our criminal clearances have already come back (spotlessly clean, of course) and we've turned in all our paperwork so we're just waiting for Jaclyn, the social worker, to write up her report. Once she's got the first draft, she'll send it to us to review to check for errors on names, ages, dates of important events, or any details that we told her about ourselves or our life together. If everything is correct, then she'll send the final draft back to the home study agency to compile her report with all our clearances and paperwork. A complete home study packet will be sent to us and an additional copy will go to our agency. I'm hoping we can be finished by the end of the month, but we'll just have to wait and see.

As soon as we are home study approved, I'm going to call our agency and insist that we be put back on the featured families list. We are VERY quickly approaching the one year mark since our disruption (today marks 11 months and 1 day). We paid them (a lot of) good money to present us to prospective birthmothers. I know for a fact that there are MANY birthmothers using our agency every month. At this point I feel like our file should be presented to all of them for their review. When the right birthmother for us comes along, she'll know and she'll pick us... but only if she is given a chance to see our profile. At the very least, I think we should be presented to any birthmother who's adoptive family search criteria loosely matches our stats (ages, ethnicity, location, religious background, etc etc). I don't think that's an unreasonable request. If a birthmother isn't interested, then she isn't interested. But at least we tried, right?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Well I've finally done it, the unthinkable. The one thing that I swore I would never ever do. I got a Twitter account. Sigh. I've been sucked into the social media mayhem (says the girl on her blog). My Tweets will all be updates on our adoption journey, ones that are too short for an entire blog entry. This will also be the easiest way for me to update everyone if we have to travel out-of-state to bring our baby home. You'll find my latest tweets to the right, as well as a link so you can "follow me" if you like.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

On Humility

The following sermon was written by the Reverend Scott Walters of Christ Episcopal Church and is published here with his permission.

Dan Georgia and I were walking across campus one cold January day. Dan had spent Christmas break with his family in Pakistan, and he’d returned from the trip with stories of hiking excursions and days of lolling about on the beaches of the Arabian Sea. He had a conspicuously dark midwinter tan to prove it.

Dan was telling me about the vacation when someone passed us on the sidewalk and said, “Looks like you spent a little time in the tanning bed over break, Dan.” To which he replied, “Yeah. I sure did.” And that was it. We kept walking.

In that moment, I so wanted to be like Dan Georgia.

It’s not that he led this exotic life that included vacations in far off lands, though that would have been nice too. I just wanted to be someone who could go to Pakistan, have a little adventure, come back to school, and then just let someone believe I’d spent the past two weeks making regular visits to a tanning salon.

You see, a trip to a Middle Eastern country is something easily put to use in the service of one’s coolness. And even though the tanning industry was a new and exciting development in Siloam Springs in the late 1980’s, not too many people made public announcements when they were about to go bake for a half hour in an ultraviolet coffin. The hope was that everyone would just assume that your skin was bronzed so perfectly from something like a trip to the beach in Pakistan.

But Dan didn’t care. And I so wanted to be someone who didn’t care. To be someone who wasn’t always calculating how some experience or opinion or anything at all might best be spent for the upbuilding of my hipness, meager as it was. What would it be like to move through this life without the need to be admired?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Post-It Note

While sitting here killing time between classes, I left the lecture hall to go to the bathroom. When I went to the row of sinks to wash my hands, I saw a little post-it sticky note that someone had left stuck to the mirror. In lovely script it simply said, "You're beautiful." Underneath that, someone else had come along and written, "And wonderfully made." I smiled. That just completely made my day and I wanted to share. You're beautiful and wonderfully made. Always remember that.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Lord's Prayer

The following sermon was written by the Reverend Scott Walters of Christ Episcopal Church and is published here with his permission.

Dogs are not terribly reflective creatures by nature. I know, your pet’s the exception. But as wise and thoughtful as your dog might be, isn’t it true that you’ve seen plenty of other people’s dogs eat something or chase something that really wasn’t a good idea? The briefest moment of reflection on past experience would have kept them out of trouble.

Consider the car chase. One of the Far Side cartoons that confused Gary Larson’s readers most was a captionless drawing of a dog howling on an overturned car. Some thought the cartoon’s humor must be obscene since they didn’t get it. But Larson said he just thought it would be funny to draw the one dog in human history who finally took down a car. What are dogs thinking when they run off after a car? Not much, probably.

A dog on a car chase is a pretty good picture of a misdirected desire, wouldn’t you say? But at times we humans don’t seem to do much better, do we? Are our desires ordered in ways that lead to the wholeness and joy of the life intended by God for us? Or do our desires sometimes lead us off on futile chases after who knows what? And if our life and our desires do seem too much like those of the dog in pursuit of a car, what’s a body to do about that?

Well, you’re in luck. This is one of the few times you’ll hear a clear, straight answer delivered from an Episcopal Church pulpit. And better yet, you’re going to hear that you’re already doing what we need to do to keep from being car chasers, so to speak. What’s a body to do? Say the Lord’s Prayer.

So that’s pretty much the sermon. We’re car chasers, but we can change that by saying the Lord’s Prayer. But since people around here don’t tend to blindly accept everything preachers say, and because you’d be so disappointed if the sermon were too short, we’ll go ahead and flesh this out a bit.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to School

Today is the first day of classes for the fall semester and it feels a little weird. For those of you who don't already know, I'm applying to nursing school next year. In the mean time, there are a few random pre-requisite courses that I need to have on my transcript before I can apply. So I'm taking the next two semesters to fill in some holes with the missing classes.

The good news is that I don't have to take very many classes (three this fall and two next spring). The bad news is that I don't qualify for financial aid because I'm a part-time student. While it's not the worst scenario, it still sucks. The other bad news is that I couldn't get the schedule I was hoping for. I really wanted to take all of my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that we would have long weekends left open to travel. Unfortunately, because I registered late (looooong story), I got stuck with the last few remaining sections and they're all on the Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule. But at least I still get Tuesday/Thursday off to be at home. So it isn't a total loss.

My first class is at 8 AM. Getting up early enough for the drive downtown actually isn't that bad since I'm used to Piper getting me up around 6:30 everyday anyway. What does suck is the morning traffic. I was hoping to scoot downtown before the majority of the morning commuters were on the road, but apparently they're all up as early as I am. Oh well.

The other good thing about my schedule is that I have on-campus study time built in. My first class is 8-9, then 10-11, then 12-1, and a once-a-week lab from 3-5. So I'll have an hour in between each class to study so that I don't have to do any studying once I get home. My time at home is very precious since James' flying schedule can be so erratic. There might only be a few hours in a given day that we're both at home and both awake. This week he's flown every night, leaving around 2 PM, getting home around 3 AM, and sleeping until at least 10 that morning. If I have class on those days, I won't actually see him at all. So I'll want to spend any time I do have at home with him doing things together.

Well I think that's about it. I still have another hour to wait until my next class starts (the first one let out early after going over the syllabus). I guess I'll just meander about the internet and waste some time until 10.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

August Adoption Update

This Thursday will mark 10 months since our disruption. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we're STILL waiting and there's STILL nothing new to report. We won't meet with our new social worker until the end of the month. We'll have two visits with her before our new home study is finalized. The check for our new FBI fingerprint requests finally cleared the bank about a week ago. So hopefully we'll have all our paperwork together by the time we meet with the social worker. Again... not that it matters because we don't have any pending matches on the horizon.

I'm trying very hard to stay positive, but it's not easy. I keep hearing other couples' stories about successful placements or couples who placed very quickly after their disruption. I want to believe that there's a reason we haven't been picked by a birthmother yet. I want to believe that there's a reason we haven't been blessed with parenthood yet. I want to. But again, it's not easy.

Faith call us to do difficult things. We are stretched to our limits and then stretched a little more, just to see how much we can handle. More often than not we surprise ourselves with our strength and endurance. But that doesn't make the stretching any less painful. All we can do is keep moving forward as best we can, and keep looking to the future instead of dwelling in the past.

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preparing to Move

This is my last night in the old house before our big move across the country. I'll be totally honest, I haven't done diddly squat to get ready for the movers next week. I took Piper for a walk last night around the neighborhood once it started to cool off a little, and it made me a little sad to think that we won't be here very much longer. This move is going to be really good for us. We're moving into a bigger house, James is at a great place in his career progression, I'll be starting nursing school next summer, and hopefully we'll be bringing a baby home soon. We're finally starting to move forward in our lives after having been stuck spinning our wheels for so long. But it's still going to be hard.

Every time I hear Miranda Lambert's new song "The House that Built Me" I practically start bawling my eyes out (which is quite problematic when I'm driving in the car). I don't know why I'm so sentimental for this place all of a sudden. I'm not even gone yet and I'm already sad about leaving my childhood home behind. Growing up, I couldn't wait to move away from this city. When I finally graduated high school and prepared to follow James to college, we joked about how we would NEVER move back. EVER! Four years later, we were moving into our first house... in our old hometown. It was an ironic twist of fate that the military sent us back here, but it worked well because it allowed me to finish school (which is obviously very important).

I wasn't especially excited to be back, although it's very nice to be so close to my parents who live just across town. This city certainly has many flaws, but over the last four years we've managed to build quite a community of friends and family who love and support us. The experience we went through last fall is the best testament to that I will ever have. As hard as it was to go through a disrupted adoption, I have never felt more surrounded by love in my entire life. As empty and devastated as I was feeling, I knew that we had already been blessed beyond measure. We had people we could count on to be there for us when we were in a very dark place. I'm going to miss them very, very much.

There isn't a ton for me to do before the movers arrive on Tuesday to begin packing up our household goods (gotta love the perks of moving for the military). Mostly I just need to separate out the things I'll be moving myself like my wedding dress and wedding mementos, all our photo albums, and some sentimental keepsakes that belonged to James' father and grandfather as well as clothes and toiletries for me to live on for a couple of days. I'll be staying with my parents while the rest of our stuff gets packed up and while I work on cleaning the house and preparing it for our new tenants who arrive on the 5th. As soon as they arrive, I'll be hitting the road for the long, 18-hour drive with Piper to the new house. I can't wait!

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mary and Martha

The following sermon was written by the Reverend Kate Alexander of Christ Episcopal Church and is published here with her permission.

There is a new book out about how people don’t read books anymore. Author Nicholas Carr has recently published The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. And according to the author, the picture is grim. He argues that the internet is a medium based on interruption, and it’s changing the way people read and process information, even at a cellular level. While once we valued wisdom that comes from concentration, singular focus, and deep reading, there is not much of that to be found online. OK, before I go any further with this, I should confess that I have not read the book, but I did see a headline about it online and clicked on an interview with the author. Case in point.

Carr began research for this book when he noticed a change in his ability to concentrate. This is how he described it. “I’d sit down with a book, or a long article, and after a couple of pages my brain wanted to do what it does when I’m online: check e-mail, click on links, do some Googling, hop from page to page.” And, this kind of multitasking and hopping around lasts long after we shut down our computers. He suggests that in our modern, digital age, we have achieved an almost constant state of distraction.

Well, when I came across Carr’s argument, I felt like he was preaching to me. I fall into that category of the chronically distracted, and I would venture a guess that many of you do, too. I have a smart phone with email, text messages, Facebook and the internet at my fingertips at all times. My news comes not from newspapers but through internet headlines and on the radio in the car. I go online at home and at work. Maybe all of this media consumption is doing something to our brains, though the jury is still out. Whether you agree or not, and whether you’re wrapped up in technology or not, when you take a step back, it’s truly amazing to consider the stream of constant information available to us at any given moment. From images of oil spills to constant interruptions and clicking on links, it can be hard to know how to take it all in.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Overcome Evil with Good

The closer we get to the mid-term elections in November, and certainly as we get closer to the next presidential election in 2012, tension between members of opposing political views is going to grow in intensity. But I sincerely hope and pray that we can see past our differences as Conservatives and Liberals and can unite together with one another as AMERICANS who love our country and all that has made it so wonderful. Divided we can accomplish nothing, and we only make ourselves weaker by quarreling amongst ourselves. If we truly want what is best for our nation, then we will keep personalities, prejudices, and misconceptions out of the discussion and instead focus on hard issues and how best to resolve them peacably.

Romans 12:9-21 (NRSV)

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Our New House!!

After many months of an exhaustive home search and dealing with the stresses and anxieties associated with selling a home, we FINALLY have a resolution to our situation. Earlier this week, we signed a leasing agreement with a couple who's going to rent our old house. At the same time, we also put in an offer to buy a new house that, after some counter-offering, was eventually accepted. We went with our Realtor this morning to the new house for the home inspection (and so that I could measure all the windows to make new curtains). While I was there, I took a bazillion pictures to send my parents back at home.

The house, originally built in 1980, was obtained by the seller in a foreclosure. We saw the pictures from when the house was foreclosed on and it looked TERRIBLE. But the seller completely renovated the home including: new roof, new hot water heater, new heating and AC unit, new siding, new floors (carpet, hardwood, and ceramic tile), new counters, all new fixtures, new kitchen appliances, new master shower, custom master closet, and new back porch. The house is 2,500 square feet and has three bedrooms and two fulls bathrooms. The two car garage has an automatic garage door AND a workshop for all of James' manly man projects. The house sits on 1.25 acres, bordered on two sides by farmland. It's country living, but only five minutes from the rest of town.

The formal living room will become our reading/yoga room and the den will be used as our family room. There's no formal dining room, but since I don't actually have a formal dining table I don't see that as much of a problem. James is going to hang a tire swing from the big tree in the back yard for me and we're going to build a big picnic table to put somewhere in the shade. I want a hammock, but I've yet to figure out where that will go.... or the clothes line, or the vegetable garden, or the fire pit, or any of the other things I want to do with the property. I'm just so excited that I can hardly stand it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grilled Chicken and Pasta with Red Peppers and Kalamata Olives

I debated whether or not to even write this post, as the recipe didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped. But if I can learn from my mistakes, then you can learn from my mistakes, too. First lesson, cooking in someone else's kitchen is much hardern than cooking in your own kitchen. We're house and puppy sitting for some friends on vacation. And while I am extremely grateful that they're allowing us to live in their house for free, I'm also quite frustrated that I don't know where anything is. On top of that, I have never cooked on a gas range before. I really like the control I have over the cooking temperature, but it's taking time for me to get used to.

Second lesson, never ever EVER let the pasta get mushy. It's just not good. It doesn't taste any different, but the texture is just... well, mushy. Bleh. So here's what I did, with some notes as to what I did wrong and how I'll do things differently next time.

This recipe is an adaptation of one I found online at this afternoon. I added the grilled chicken and the baby spinach.

Grilled Chicken and Pasta with Red Peppers and Kalamata Olives

Part one: the chicken

Take some chicken breasts, season them on one side while still in the package (I used salt, pepper, basil, and rosemary). Then place them in a hot skillet with the seasoned side down. Season the other side and place a heavy iron press on top. I think theirs is a bacon press. Usually I would do this in the George Foreman grill because it's super fast and easy. I found one in the pantry, but I was too lazy to get it down, so I used a pan on the stove instead and it worked just fine. Turn over after a few minutes and cook until done.

Part two: the pasta

Red bell pepper
Kalamata olives
Baby spinach
Thin spaghetti (I should have used linguine but I didn't have any and the box of spaghetti was open)
Aged parmesan cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Red pepper flakes

Cook the pasta in salted water until done. Dice the pepper. Sautee the bell pepper, olives, and red pepper flakes until tender. Add the spinach and cook until only slightly wilted (I actually did this last, which makes no sense at all. I don't know why I did that. I'm just retarded today). Add the cooked pasta, balsamic vinegar to taste, basil, rosemary, and parmesan, tossing to coat the pasta.

Serve pasta with chicken on top, sprinkling with parmesan to taste.

This didn't turn out especially pretty, but it tasted amazing. I will definitely make it again, but in the proper order next time. James even really liked the spinach. Yay!