Relay for Life 2011

Everyone knows someone who is/has been/will be affected by cancer. It's an awful disease that both takes lives and produces survivors.

We can't hide from it. We can't stop fighting to find out more about it and figure out how to beat it.

A few friends and I made a Relay for Life team (our event is this Friday-Saturday) and we're trying raise money for the cause. Here is a website we've set up to make online donations simple and safe for those who want to help!

All of the money raised goes to the American Cancer Society to fight the battle against cancer. This is a great opportunity to remember those who have passed away from cancer, those who have beat it and those who are still fighting!

Even the smallest donations add up, so if you can even spare 5 bucks, we welcome it!

Thank you so much!



"23And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.


25He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no ahurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

26¶Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

27And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the afire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats bchanged, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

28Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his aangel, and delivered his servants that btrusted in him, and chave changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God."

Daniel 3:23-28

I've always been amazed by this story. It would have been so incredible to witness this miracle and see the men in the furnace emerge unscathed.

But it also makes me think of the story of Abinadi. I'm sure he was just as faithful and devoted to God as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, but he was not saved from his fire.

Anyway, that made me think about trials I've experienced and the trials I've witnessed others struggle with, and how sometimes the Lord chooses to take away the pain, and sometimes he lets us experience it.

But I think that is because we all learn and grow in different ways. Sometimes our faith grows by witnessing a miracle, and sometimes the miracle is that even after the tough times, we can still believe. He knows us and He knows not only what we need, but how we need it.

And I am so grateful for that.


Good Morning Green

"Green (or rather, purple) smoothies" in the morning may just be my new favorite thing.

I'll admit, I was a surefire skeptic at first. But I'm getting better at making them like anything but spinach. The one I made this morning was my favorite so far:
  • big handful of spinach
  • spoonful of whole flax seeds
  • unsweetened almond milk
  • mixed berries (black, blue and raspberries)
  • two heaping spoonfuls of honey greek yogurt
I blended it until it was a creamy lavender whipped mess and it was the perfect breakfast.

Good food can be good for you.

"The most terrible battles leave some places untouched, protected, despite being surrounded by fire."

How perfectly convenient that, yesterday, as I was waiting for the timer on the chocolate chip cookies to go off, I curled up in an armchair in our parlor* to get sucked into the first part of Suite Francaise, "Storm in June," while outside drops of rain as big as marbles fell all along the ground, and thunder shook the walls of this antique house.

My parents gave me this book for Christmas and I am finally getting around to reading it. It was actually the bit on the back of the book about the author, not the plot synopsis that caught my interest originally:

"When Irene Nemirovsky began working on Suite Francaise, she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. For sixty-four years, this novel remained hidden and unknown."

I really like the book so far. I am always so inspired by stories of ordinary people and the things that happen to them.

This part especially struck me:
"In all her life the woman had probably never said anything but ordinary things, like 'the leeks are getting bigger' or 'who's the dirty pig who got my floor all muddy?'...What are we in people's eyes, Maurice and I, other than two miserable employees? It's true in a way, but in another way, we are precious and unique. I know that too...All they could do was to keep walking and place themselves in the hands of God."

image via this
*so named by my landlords.


In case you were wondering,


I don't believe in diet fads, 1200 calories a day, or ever being too shy to wear a swimsuit in the summer.
I don't believe in stuffing lunchboxes with twinkies, fruit by the foot, or gushers.
I don't believe in going into debt to buy a house bigger than we need, or a car we can't afford.
I don't believe in going to bed angry.

I do believe in eating well, and the way a kitchen makes a home.
I believe in apple slices and peanut butter, homemade chocolate chip cookies and turkey sandwiches on thick whole wheat bread.
I believe in saving pennies and doing without, but also rewarding ourselves for our hard work.
I believe in taking a plate of brownies to new neighbors and smiling at the mailman.
I believe in little league, ballet classes and parking lot pickup basketball games.
I believe in "goodbye"s closely followed by "I love you"s.

And don't worry, I believe in road trips with greasy fingers from french fries, and Happy Meal toys for the kids, and frozen pizza for lazy Friday nights (or Saturday morning breakfasts), and buying girl scout cookies from the 10 year old down the street and chocolate any time of day, and buying just about anything little kids sell at a roadside stand.

image via vi.sualize.us


Confessions of a cosmetically-challenged 22 year old

Okay, I'm not a tomboy.

But still, when I walk down every aisle of the makeup section, I'm a little in awe at all the powders, creams, compacts, tubes, and wonder how I managed to go almost 23 years without actually knowing how to apply eyeshadow or eyeliner to my top lashes.

Or figuring out which shade of lipstick flatters my features.

I grew up playing with my mom's makeup, dolling my face up for dance recitals and sneaking fuchsia Wet N' Wild lipstick in my 3rd grade backpack, but somehow got lost in between the month where I didn't where makeup at all and the stage makeup that, well, only looks good on stage.

But apparently my beauty regimen is pretty basic, and apparently that means I need a little help in the "big girl" makeup department (aka the kind you buy at the counter, not the register)

Today, I went in search of a new shade of lipstick. The one that I dab just a bit of on my lips in the morning is nice, but I've had it for years and I'm pretty sure it came from one of those free gifts you get when you (or, in my case, my mother) purchase some Lancome mascara or Benefit blush.

Anyway, I perused all the basic drugstore brands' selections of lip tints, glosses, and sticks, so wanting to be the girl who could pull off "fire," but realizing that "rose petal" probably better suits my complexion. And I remembered that one time 8 years ago when my mom pulled out her seasonal color analysis book and we tried to figure out if I was a summer or a winter, and I couldn't remember if I had a warm or a cool undertone.

And after disregarding that momentary stress, I grabbed a tube called "cherries in the snow," threw it in my basket and hoped that it wouldn't make me look like a clown.

And, you know, I tried it on tonight, and I think it just might work.

image via google

ps: I can tell you, that my mom bought me some Nars blush over Christmas (with a color title that makes my cheeks flush) from Sephora and I absolutely love it. I may be hooked.



There is something deep inside my soul that pulls me to Virginia.
And I have no idea why.

I have only been there once, with my sister to visit her then boyfriend who was a grad. student at UVA, but I remember the smell and the heat of summer, and the rain. And the heat in the rain in the summer.

And maybe it's just another facet of my love affair with southern life or my not-so-hidden desire to be the next Paula Deen.

But of all the places I may end up, 20 years from now, with a little family and an old house and a life that I love, I think I could be very happy in a smallish town in Virginia.

But that is really all I know right now.

the unposted


That is the number of drafts I have for this blog.

Some of them are unfinished, some of them are just a title, and some of them are nothing more than a few words to prompt a future thought.

But a few of them, are polished and perfect and maybe a bit too personal.
These are the things I will never publish,
at least not in this space.

The words that aren't vague enough to camouflage their true subjects.
The melancholy memories that creep up on me, even after I've long since put them to rest.

There are times when I'm tempted to give myself a new identity and create a fresh dashboard with no attachment to my name, just for the sake of posting these thoughts that are maybe too much for this blog.

But, the thing is, there is a a very fine line between the things I'll never say, and the thoughts I ache to be read.

For now, it is enough to keep them tucked away in that folder, crossing my fingers that I don't accidentally release them to an unsuspecting audience (it would not be the first time). Perhaps, a boy who may stumble upon this little space, by chance.

And I read them. Sometimes over and over. I remember how and who I was when I wrote these words.

And, like a lot of things, it's a bit sweeter because no one else gets to know.

we won't be leaving by the same road that we came by*

{I found this in my "Drafts" folder today, and I can't quite remember what prompted me to write it, which must mean it's safe now to post, right?}

And we won't be the same people when we leave either.
Because the rocks and the ridges in the road shape the pattern of our footprints.

And because we grow up, and we grow together, and we grow wiser.

So that we realize there are things about the person we used to be that we'd prefer to leave in the past.

We leave those pieces of us for the journal entries and the photo albums, tucked away to remember, but also to forget.

Like a mental list of who not to be.
It's good to remember, because it allows us to see how far we've come.

But it's better to forget, because then we can finally be free.

*Keane, you have been my muse for the past two and a half weeks. So thanks for that.



If I knew as a child how much I would love to cook as a college student, I probably would have taken more advantage of my mom's kitchen smarts.

I can think of all those time she tried to teach my sister and I how to cook and we had zero desire to learn.
I guess some things you just have to learn out of necessity.

Somehow, when people ask me what I like to do, I never know what to say.

I mean,
I've done dance my whole life, so I guess that's one.
Like almost anyone, I love watching movies and going to concerts.
I like to write.
I like to read.
And, I guess, I love to cook.

And I like a whole lot of other things, but for some reason, they all slip my mind when people bring up "hobbies."

Today, Kellie and I made a peanut butter cheesecake and ended up with extra filling, so we made some chocolate brownies and marbled the batter on top...and still had some extra filling, so we're going to make some yummy cheesecake bites. I swear, this is like the neverending fountain of cheesecake.

Sundays are the best.

This is the brownie recipe we used. We haven't tried it yet, but i'm sure it's divine.


All is well

So glad I finally finished the series. In 4 weeks, I read books 5-7 (the 7th at about 10:15 last night), watched movies 1-4, 5 and 7.1, and remembered that I love to read.

And I love magic.

Thanks for reminding us that, in the end, good will always triumph.

image via


why not

Something about him had stuck with her, and it would creep up on her when she heard a song that sounded like one he wrote or ran down his side of the street.

It hadn't even been anything, but it still hurt.

That time, he had been the one to say no.
Well, he didn't actually say it out loud.
But she knew.

Somehow his rejection had hurt more than the others. It was that curious kind of hurt, like when you peel back the bandaid just to see if the graze is healing, except that by doing so, you only make it worse.

Because the hardest part about the whole situation was not knowing why.

Or why not, rather.


we never really do find out why, do we?

dare you to move

Every once in a while, a song comes on the radio,

not a new song,

but one that knows you by heart;

it stops you in your tracks,

and it's all you can do to just remember to breathe.

This is one of those songs.



I've never been very trendy.

Not to say I don't take effort in putting myself together, but I grew up with my mother's and grandmother's examples of timeless class rather than of-the-minute fashion fads.

However, I've always been partial to old things, so I guess you could say I'm vintage in the sense that I love old movies, used books and the music of my parents' and grandparents' era.

Someday when my bookshelves stop moving themselves every year or so, I'll stock them with a collection of Barbra Streisand movies, books I've read and reread so many times they automatically open to my favorite pages, and Rat Pack records that make that scratchy sound when placed on the turntable.


the downward glance

I have this bad habit.

For years, it seemed like no one remembered me.
I would meet someone (sometimes multiple times) and if we didn't see each other for a while (or even if we saw each other the next day),

I would remember, but they wouldn't.
I could tell them where we met and what we talked about, but they would reintroduce themselves like it had never happened.

So I perfected this halfway downward glance. A defense mechanism, of sorts, to protect my ego against that harsh lack of words or even a look of recognition, for those times when I passed someone in the hall or on the street that I recognized,

but I just assumed they wouldn't recognize me.

Look up, Oh look who it is, quickly-look-down-again-before-he-thinks-I'm-staring, head down, fiddle with whatever happens to be in my purse, slowly raise my gaze, just enough to check if his pupils are scanning in my direction, and if/when they aren't, look away and walk on by.

But then there is always the backward glance, just out of curiosity, to see if maybe, he realized who I was a split second too late.

I've gotten better, really, I have. I've even gotten up the nerve to be the first one to say hello. Which, believe me, is very outside-comfort zone for me.

But today, it happened again. And it was silly, really. Because I knew he would remember...but the thing is...I wanted him to speak first. Because I had the last word last time.


This land


twenty years from now I take my own little family to the local football stadium to watch fireworks with a picnic basket of sandwiches, apple slices and raspberry lemonade,

a few lawn chairs on my back and an armful of old blankets,

and a deck of playing cards in my back pocket to entertain us while we wait for the show to begin,

I hope that I still get chills when the local girl or boy sings the national anthem.
I hope that even before my children learn to walk, they know that you stand when you see the American flag,
that you show respect to your leaders and those who fight to defend this country (even when you disagree with the policy or the conflict),
that you can fulfill any and all of your dreams if you're willing to work for it,

and I hope that gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy in this country still brings me to tears.

Happy Independence day! God Bless this land!

image via deviantart


Follow up to "Date a Girl Who Reads"

The other day my mother and I were talking about our favorite children's books, and I was struck with such gratitude that my parents read to me as a child. I remember so many times sitting on my Dad's lap, reading Make Way for Ducklings or Harry the Dirty Dog. Later, the baton was passed to me and I would get to take a turn reading a chapter of The Forest Runners. Or going to the library with my mom to get my first library card, and discovering the pure discovery that is reading.

While my older sister was flying through Agatha Christie mysteries and Jane Eyre, I was hooked on Harriet the Spy, Maniac Magee and Homer Price.

The first book I ever read from my Dad's bookshelves (stocked with classic literature) was To Kill a Mockingbird. And when people ask me what my favorite book is, that's still what I say.

I remember as a little kid, when I found a book I really liked, I worried that if I closed it before finishing, the story would go on without me. Somehow the characters would resolve their conflicts and fall in or out of love and I'd miss out, unless I sat there and read to the end.

I've always loved reading, but I haven't always made it a priority or given it the time it deserves (or the time I want to give it). This week I remembered why I love it so much and forgot how I really survived on a diet solely comprised of textbooks and news articles.

But I've mended my ways and I'm making a summer reading list (suggestions welcome!), because that's what summer is for, right?

Here's to my parents, for teaching me the beauty of great stories.

Read This

I realize that dozens of other blogs and websites have posted this already, and I could probably just link to it, but I want to make sure you read it. (I found this from Meg Fee's re-post of it. Sometimes I want to steal Meg's Google Reader because she finds the best bits of writing!)

Because it's absolutely exquisite.

"Date a Girl Who Reads by Rosemarie Urquico

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by God, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."

Yes oh yes. Rosemarie, you nailed it.