Monday, September 15, 2014

thoughts | goodbye august... wait! september is half over?

Oh August.  I wasn't ready for you to leave.

I dream of summer all year long.  And then it comes, and before I have a chance to really, truly, actually, thaw out, it's gone.  And like some unspoken, "North of Chicago" rule, the calendar page flips to Sept. 1 and it's all over.  We go from 80 degrees and neon green grass covered golf courses to orange topped trees and a choppy wave covered grayish blue lake.  The leaves seem to instantly wither and jump off the trees before you have a chance to even get used to writing "September" in your checkbook (are the cool kids still writing checks these days?).

It was 40 degrees when I woke up this morning.

I realized that it's nearly the middle of the month and I never updated my summer bucket list (five for August).  I could sit here and type out some pretty fabulous justifications on why I didn't do half of the things I intended.  But I won't.  I would like to cash in my "get out of jail free" card.  No excuses.

And someone should probably stop me the next time I start coming up with a list of things to get done in the next 30 days.  Yeah, its probably not going to happen.

We moved.  

The above sentence seems very innocent.  I should add, we moved 11 people, 3 cats, 1 horse and a huge house into boxes, freight trucks, storage units, and a rental house.  Oh, and a barn.  The horse is staying in a barn (not a freight truck, I haven't researched it, but I'm quite sure that would be illegal).  We also were gifted a donkey two days ago, but this is another story for another day.  You would think that moving less than 10 miles from one house to another would be an breeze, but I am convinced that cross-country is the easier task.  I think my little Jeep was loaded and unloaded approximately 1 million times.  Today was the first time I realized that the backseat was empty.  Completely empty.  Okay, fine, so my giant L.L. Bean tote was still in there, but it gets to stay because it holds important things (like extra cardigan sweaters, newspapers and stuff like that).  Yes ma'am, we are just winning at the game of life over here.

The past month has felt overwhelming.  And I hate to even say that because I know that there are real people out there dealing with truly difficult situations, and I feel like a wimp.  My version of "overwhelming" just happens to be a pile-up of fancy problems.  When my parents first started talking about moving early this year, I figured it would take some time, that our house would never sell and that everything would be fine (glass half full) and I went on with life.  Then the next thing I know, our house sells, Mom and Dad find a new and very historic home that they want to add onto, start meeting with architects and builders and I'm googling best "portable storage containers".  We found a rental house to stay in for the next year.  Then U-Line started delivering pallets of cardboard boxes to our door and we had kids playing with sharpies and rolls of tape.  It got a little dicey there for a while when we realized that Cal was missing and the last time anyone had seen him was three days ago when we packed up the sleeping bags.  Totally kidding.  No children, or animals were harmed in the moving of this house!

It all moved so quickly and seemed very surreal that we would be leaving our house.  Life was really good for us.  We had plenty of space to spread out and we were constantly entertaining guests, and sometimes our house felt like a bed and breakfast due to the amount of friends staying overnight.  But we loved it.  I had my own little room that was more like a nest than anything.  Neat, tidy, all to myself and life was really good.  EVERYTHING. WAS. TOO. GOOD.

A wise man once told me "Sometimes we get too comfortable, and then God needs to move us".

Let me tell you, that was a WORD.  True in my life and applicable to the right now.  I needed to hear that.  I feel like God had given us a sweet season of life and (though not without pain, and I should also add, that this new season is not without its sweetness.  The Christian life is a mingling of the two.  And God is always good.)  But because He loves us and because its easy to get soft and to stop depending on Him for our strength, He chooses to move us.  We leave the familiar for the unfamiliar and we are once again forced to rely on God for our only solace.  We see beautiful story after beautiful story in the bible of how God takes His children from one place to another, because those in-between places teach us some of the most important lessons we'll ever learn.  More about ourselves and our weaknesses, and more of God's grace and faithfulness.  Moving requires faith.  But God provides everything we need because He is the Faithful One.

I've tried to keep all of this in perspective as we've made the transition.  As people and friends ask how things are, I'm quick to remind them that everything is fine.  Really it is.  Sure, our kitchen may be half the size, but hey! it takes half the time to clean!  I'm sharing a room with two messy girls who shall remain nameless, but hey! I now get to enjoy the "late, late show with Gracie" every night (oh golly, she is animated!).  I'm also five minutes away from the office and more importantly, Starbucks.  Oh, and pizza delivery.  It has been ten long years since we've lived in range of the pizza delivery man.  You should have seen my face when I realized that I can order a gluten free pizza from my couch and have it delivered in twenty minutes.  Welcome to the big city Abbe!

I know that a year flies by like nothing and I want to be able to look at this time in our little rental house and say "it was hard, but it was good".  To dwell on the sweetness.  I know that I will fail miserably at being gracious and that I will miss nine out of ten lessons that God is "clearly" trying to teach me.  But my heart's desire in this season, is that God would use it (ALL. OF. IT.) in my life for His own glory.  And He will.  He already has.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

friends | "zucchini will change your life, abbe!"

(Today's post was written by a sweet and very hilarious friend of mine.  The other day we started ranting about zucchini and she had me in stitches, I said " you should write a guest post for my blog", two days later this was sitting in my inbox.  And I laughed more.  Thanks Shell!  p.s.  Lovely photo from the pinterest - lovely recipe link here.)

Hello Everybody!

My name is Shell and I am so honored, I mean, Abbe SHOULD be so honored  to have me guest posting today! I am here to share with you the countless AMAZING uses for a humble, beautiful little vegetable. Enter the zucchini. Now, here is a funny thing; so many people I know don’t like zucchini. The poor thing has become the brunt of bad jokes and locked cars (note: there is a church in our area who's reputation proceeds it, when attending service, you lock your car doors and windows unless you want the backseat filled with unwanted veggies.). Why, why, why?? I guess I just don’t understand people. If they only knew that zucchini could potentially save the world, they WOULD NOT treat it in such a careless manner. So today, to begin breaking the myths surrounding my friend, I will share with you some uses of this darling of the vegetable world. Together we can break the stereotype that has trapped the zucchini.

Let’s start in the kitchen. Okay, so I know you have all made double chocolate zucchini cake or bread or whatever. But come on, can you even taste the zucchini in that stuff? All your other junk covers up the delicious, subtly earthy flavor of the sun ripened tomato, er zucchini. Really, let’s use the stuff properly. My most famous recipe is Zucchini Bars. Folks, let me tell you. Heaven in every bite, or your zucchini back. The crust is a spin on a shortbread cookie, but instead of all that bad-for-you butter, I substitute... Zucchini!! It creates this delicious flour-y zucchini layer of crunch. Can’t. Begin. To. Describe.

Then you whip together a fluffy cream cheese layer with powdered sugar, zucchini extract (look it up,
I think I got mine on Amazon) and about 8 cups of shredded zucchini. This goes on top of your zucchini
crust, and then must be chilled for two hours. Mine usually doesn't last that long. I keep nibbling at it!!
And then before serving, slice up some more raw zucchini for garnish. I like to use different sizes, so cut
up some baseball bat size zucchinis, and well as some medium and small ones. Cover the entire cream
cheese layer in the slices, and then dust with powdered sugar. Oh yes!! Pass the coffee with this one. I’m
thinking of having my wedding cake be a version of these bars, they are that good. Oh, and sorry, I can’t
give the exact recipe to you, it’s a family secret. Maybe I could start mail orders, though. Hey, there’s an idea....

How about the next time you are having a campfire and making those nuggets of goodness called s’mores, swap out your chocolate square, which by the way is full of sugar, corn syrup, and calories, (and DON’T tell me you use dark chocolate) for a beautiful slice of zucchini. This is where it’s at
girls. To take it up a level, swap out that marshmallow, (soo bad for you), and substitute a big ol’ chunk of zucchini, or you could even trade out the graham crackers for zucchini slices. The possibilities are
endless. You could even do an entire s’more made entirely of zucchini. Bliss. Pop it on a stick and get roasting. You are revolutionizing the campfire experience right here!

How about zucchini around the house??

- As a mop. Cut the biggest zucchini you can find, lengthwise, and use it to scrub your floor. Wet it if you need to. Your floor will thank you.

- As a dish scrubbie- step aside Steel Wool- zucchini has arrived! Use a medium one cut into your desired shape and get scrubbing those dishes. You won’t even need dish soap, zucchini enzymes are all the cleaning power you need.

- The list could go on...I’m working on a zucchini-based bleach right now, so stay tuned...

Okay, so how about some tips for using zucchini in the beauty world, peeps?? Zucchini, I believe, is going to be the next thing to sweep the cosmetic universe. Let’s start with some simple ways to incorporate this miracle into your beauty regime. First when doing face masks, swap out those wilted
cucumbers for some raw zucchini slices. Zucchini will bring back those bags under your eyes in no time!  Also a zucchini face mask. Mash up some cooked zucchini (I like to leave the skin on and the seeds in. They both work as a wonderful exfoliate for your skin) I also don’t like to blend the zucchini first, as you lose the beautiful chunky, mealy, and stringy texture if you do. Apply to your face. Wow, your skin will glow. Seriously, this stuff fills in wrinkle lines, minimizes pores, and lifts sagging skin. Leave the mask on as long as you like, it can’t hurt you.

So, I know, like essential oils are the rage right now, and I have been stewing about creating a zucchini essential oil. Can anyone say amen?? You could diffuse the invigorating smell of your favorite veggie all around your house! I’ll be accepting advance orders shortly.

So fans, go out and start using those zucchinis. Who knew you could use zucchini in so many areas of life? So unlock those car doors, roll down those windows, leave your garage doors open and welcome this fantastic, wonder-filled, revolutionary, world- changing little vegetable into your arms and homes today. Together we can make a difference!


P.S. One last tip: Incorporate zucchini into your workout routine, by using them as arm weights!  They even come in different sizes for whatever stage of fitness you are at! You can then go and use them in zucchini bars, a face mask, or to clean your floor. Multi-purpose weights, who would a thunk it??

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

doings | lamplighter guild 2014

My friend Anna was the connection to Lamplighter and Mark Hamby.

She first pitched the idea of going to London to work on the recording for Lamplighter Theater early last year and I jumped at the chance to go.  A live studio recording, London, time with my best friend,     sign me up!  I attribute my love of radio drama to many long hours on the road as a child.  To this day, that trip is one of my top favorite life experiences.  So far.

You can read more about our Lamplighter Theater adventures here...

It was there that I met Mark Hamby for the first time.  He's the man behind Lamplighter Books, a company that takes rare and out of print books and republishes them in beautiful hardbound copies.  Lamplighter is also passionate about the arts and for the past four years has put on the Guild for creative disicplines.  A way for students to spend a week studying under some of the best Christian creatives around. 

I was approached with the opportunity to work on staff for this year's Guild, confirming one of my favorite theories on life "opportunity breeds opportunity" and jumped on it.  I warned everyone that I'm not a creative, I'm an organizer.  Thankfully, they seemed to accept me.  Since I live so far away from the rest of the team, I mainly kept in contact through emails and the awesome invention that is "google documents".  After about four months of student registration highs and lows, and schedule updates, it was finally time for me to fly to Upstate NY for Guild week!

The challenge of the 2014 Guild, was that, we moved our location to a breathtakingly beautiful state park (see photo above), and by doing that gave up a full hotel of attentive staff.  It became a team of about 15 taking care of about 85 students and 9 teachers.  Our jobs included transportation, shuttling students to and from 6 different housing locations, no internet or cell phone coverage, massive rainstorms and constantly changing schedules.

The first official morning of the Guild, my mom texted me at 8:42am and said "have a fun day honey! we're praying for you!".  And I just started to laugh.  I was standing in the middle of a soggy tent, while the great deluge happened only feet away from me.  My shoes had about an inch of water in them and my hair had trespassed into lioness territory.  By 8:42 that morning, I had gotten about two hours of sleep in a rustic cabin with a bathrobe and borrowed pair of Anna's socks as my only blanket, our first shuttle run was a bit less than successful due to a change of locations, because RAIN, our cafeteria tent flooded and we'd moved the tables and chairs to higher ground TWICE, and one of our teachers had a hole in his car tire.  It wasn't even 9am!

Thankfully, things started to settle from there.  It was one of the busiest weeks of my life.  I literally ran from one place to the next, got about four hours of sleep per night and forgot to eat.

The week had so many highlights for me!  Three of our teachers worked with Adventures in Odyssey, it was so much fun quizzing them on different episodes or asking them for the story behind the story for our favorite plots.  Anna and I happened to schedule things just so we would be the ones to pick up Kathy Buchanan from the airport.  Shameless we are.  But it was so much fun!  One of the perks to my job was popping in on different classes and getting to see what the students were working on.  Creative people amaze me!  I chauffeured the filmmaking class around for a few minutes and ended up in the credits of their project. (you can watch it here )

My very favorite part was the people.  Oh my goodness!  Not only the teachers and the students, but these two, Katherine and Nolan (with "tired-eyeballs Abbe" in the middle) are the ones who made the crazy long hours absolutely delightful.  They were my bosses for the week and I was just amazed at their output.  By the time I left I felt like I was saying goodbye to my family.  The whole team (about 15 total) really bonded and it was so much fun to be a part of something with such a high level of camaraderie and trust.  We're already talking about Guild 2015! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

doings | five for august

So I had about a 50% success rate for May.  Let's just lower the bar and make it a "five for august".

Deal?  Okay, here we go.

1.  Go to a drive in movie.  Seriously, right now that feels like the epitome of summery doings.

2.  Host a mini party.  I'm fully aware of the fact that I failed at this in May.  If at first you don't succeed...

3.  Attend two weddings and one corporate event.  We were invited to three weddings this month, but will miss out on one due to said corporate anniversary party that I'm organizing.  So much socializing!  But I think you know how I feel about wedding cake.

4.  Do a picture tour of my room.  And then pack all of my little things into boxes, because we're moving end of this month!

5.  Read three books.  Any recommendations?