Monday, November 15, 2010

i have good news and bad news.

Do you want the good news first or the bad news first?

Oh wait, it doesn't really matter what you think for two reasons: 
1. this is my blog, and it happens to be extremely one-directional and also me-centered, which means the bad news will always come first. I like getting it over with.
2. The good news and bad news are one and the same in this case. Guess what I found out can be made in a toaster oven?
Toasted marshmallows! Melted chocolate (and peanut butter) chips! I don't know why I never thought of it! (Yes, I do. It's because I have never owned a toaster oven before, and I am smart enough to realize you can't toast marshmallows in a regular toaster unless it somehow has an open flame.)

I have been cooking up many delicious recipes - mostly from my Almost Meatless cookbook. Barley-stuffed butternut squash. Albondigas (Spanish meatballs). Turkey and pinto bean corn bread pie. Stir fry. Sour cream pancakes. Up next? Eggplant. I love winter vegetables!

I've been listening to Timothy Keller's Ministries of Mercy. It's been really good so far, about how we cannot simply have a church based on verbal interactions and theology. Books are just a bunch of scribbles that we apply meaning to (Richard Foster, A Celebration of Disciplines) and it's actions that truly reveal love. Actions are pretty hard when you're faking love,  however, and that only gets you so far, which is to say, not very far at all, so I'm not suggesting that we only build our actions as a sign of love, which is something I often find myself doing. They should be an outpouring of love: like when something so good happens to you that you know there's not a chance you could keep a secret and you're going to blow like a teapot if it doesn't come out of you. (I think that also could be used to describe a couple flu symptoms. Use whichever metaphor you prefer.)

Timothy Keller says in Ministries of Mercy that alienation occurs when an object is separated from its purpose. Our purpose is to glorify and worship the Creator God. We are forever alienating ourselves by worshiping things other than the Creator God, by being slaves to sin and running away from every intention to glorify Him. We alienate ourselves. "It's like - how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black." (Thank you, This is Spinal Tap).

But we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemable people - but it is only through the will(s) of God.

If Jesus' subsistence, His food, was to do the will of the Father, how much more should we be emulating that? How much more should we realize that we are incapable of doing so ourselves? How much more do we see the necessity of Christ and of God's desire for us to be saved and God's will to have His creation glorify Him?
Much more. How much more glorifying could this be?

The answer is none. None more glorifying.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Getting splashed

  • The first practice was today - the swimmers had to swim 1500 to prove that they could swim, so it wasn't really a practice-of-practices. I did get to meet a few people (we'll see whose names I remember next week) and cheer on some people too. I like it. I don't think people realize how much fun it is to be on the pool deck in clothes. This position is a big blessing, and I now found out that I am not needed at morning practices (which is a mixed blessing, I guess, since I was looking forward to them.) I'll probably try to go to morning practices when I can't go to the afternoon practices. Because I'm really comfortable on the pool deck and in this setting, I'm viewing it as a big blessing before I apply to teach this age next year. Who knows - maybe I'll get to tutor some calculus/ geometry/ trigonometry this year with the swimmers!
  • Free pretzel sticks at Max & Erma's still! (Oh, maybe I shouldn't admit that again.) 
  • Friends that you can be yourself with. Not that they like every single part of me, but that I know I can act however I'm feeling (sad, joyful, immature, giggly) and they will accept it. Example: I was taught how to play chess today - see a synopsis below.
    • Him: Do you want to play chess?
    • Me: I only know two things about chess. The horse moves up two and over one (or up one and over two) and the phrase 'king me.'
    • Him: Silence.
    • Me: Okay, I take back the second thing. 
    • So then we are sitting at Cup O Joe and I am scrambling to see all the moves, reminding myself over and over again that "us mathematicians" are supposed to be good at chess and like it. Magically, (after about one hour of a game) I captured his queen. I may or may not have shrieked an evil cackle that made some other tables laugh. Of course, I still managed to just get a draw and not actually win, but you can be sure that all of my captured pieces were watching with rapt attention, organized by height and importance on the side of the board. It makes me smile that I can let my silly ideas out and people don't throw me out the door.
  • Sleep. It restores us (physically, mentally, and cognitively). Animals sleep. Humans sleep. Why do we require 8ish hours of sleep? We could have been created like other animals that don't need very much sleep. I think it's because it reminds us that we're not invincible and forces us to step back, relax, and remember that we also have to rely on God. Plus, cool dreams. I remember my dreams probably 6 days out of 7. I also really enjoy dreams. Typically (when they're not nightmares), they're blessings.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Do you realize if it weren't for Edison, we'd be watching TV by candlelight?" - Al Boliska

Shortly - 
  • Thankful for warm houses, heat, electricity and lights, the ability to communicate with friends who live far away... all these things that technology brings us. What good inventions we have before us that we take for granted!
  • That my plans never work out and God's always seem to. It just doesn't seem fair, but then, years/ months/ weeks/ hours later, I start to understand that I had tunnel vision and wasn't able to see what God sees. It makes me wonder how God sees this world - I'd imagine I'm just seeing a thimble-ful of the ocean... Or perhaps it's like the difference between looking at a picture of the mountains compared to seeing mountains in person. Or looking at a picture of someone compared to seeing them. Although I did read a study that looking at a picture of a significant other produces the same neurological reactions that drugs does. Ke$ha was right - love is a drug. 
  • Gift of joy and optimism. I guess this is not something that everybody has. I am in no way saying that I am always happy or always positive (because I know you could all prove me wrong) but I think that generally, I see the positives in the world around me, and I trained myself a little bit but mostly it came naturally. For example, I don't worry about the slushy-ugliness of snow - instead I think of snowflakes that sit on my nose and eyelashes, and sliding down giant parking-lot piles of snow. I think this joy in life is a huge blessing, and I am so glad that most of the time, it is easy for me to access this part of me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

but God will not take away life ---

  • "We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and He devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast." - II Samuel 14:14. If there is ever something to be blessed with, I suppose that verse about sums it up. (Hey! I love it when I can work that phrase into a post.) This was spoken before we knew what God's mean was going to be (Jesus) so it's kind of a nice little pre-emptive promise to David (remember, he's our imperfect leader.)
  • Swimming! This was already on the list, but that was for me swimming. There is one thing that I tend to feel blessed about more than swimming, and that's making other people swim. I took a job today as an assistant swim coach for a nearby district who is coaching their three high schools with one staff. Practice starts Friday, so I don't have much time to prepare, but I am super-duper excited about this opportunity. I tried telling my roommate about it and she said it didn't sound that fun ("Practices twice a day? Sounds horrible.") to which I responded a little quip about how it will be ten times easier to get out of bed knowing that I won't have to dive in the water. Plus - I get to run with the team in their afternoon practice! The coach was really pleased that I'm a runner because he thinks it helps makes the swimmers tougher, so I'll be running with different groups every week, probably more than once a week (groups run four days of the week, but I don't know what my role will actually be. Possibly running with them four days.) I think this is a huge blessing because the time commitment sounds like nothing to me. I am really excited to work with high schoolers, smell pools every day, work out, deal with headcases like me, and:
  • This one deserves its own bullet: Early morning car rides in the dark with no radio on are my favorite start to the day. Dark or almost dawn. Few cars. The closest to the smell of nature that one finds in Columbus. Quiet. Tranquil. I cannot wait. And just to reiterate, this is made ten (maybe eleven) times better that I don't have to dread a cold pool at the end of the drive. I paid my dues for eight years, though, so I will not rub it in any swimmer's faces.
  • Soreness. In anticipation of the interview today, I knew I needed to look the part of a hard-core swimmer, so I lifted weights this morning for the first time since before the marathon. I love the feeling of soreness - it's confirmation that I worked hard, that my muscles are still there, and that I deserve the Bakery Gingham Buckeye cupcake and cookie dough ice cream after dinner... Okay, maybe not always that. But the fact that I am able to work out (time and ability) and that it relaxes me is a blessing.
  • Baptisms! My church has a baptism service this weekend. I take this for granted, but I'd love if this berakah were realized more in my life, just how much it actually means for us!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"this ain't no thinking thing, right-brain, left-brain, it goes a little deeper than that."

  • Certain aspects of who I am. When I share my ambidextrous-ness with others, the typical response is "Are you right-brained or left-brained?" I then share that I was a math major and English minor. I like using both sides of my brain. For my cognition class, I found a free quiz on which "brain" I am, and it proved the following: 

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: 16(16)
Right Brain Dominance: 16(16)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
I am both. This makes me smile and think of all the cool things I can do connecting types of thinking and types of material that might not normally run smoothly together.
UPDATE: I no longer like this test. Either I am only friends with like-minded people or everybody is perfectly equal, and I also have no psychic friends. Sad day.

  • Imperfect leaders. That doesn't sound like a berakah, but it is. Think of King David from the Bible - he was a good leader, right? Wrong. He had so many issues - committing adultery and then leading his army into a battle purposely so that the adulteress' husband would die - his children rape and kill each other - doesn't see his wrongdoings, etc. Yet through him, God performed so many good things. I could take this two ways - 1. to say "God can use me too!" (which He can, and does) and 2. to realize that no matter who gets elected, no matter what kind of leader we're following in the government, church, family, anywhere... no one will be a good leader. We are always voting on the leader that we think will bring society to perfection, rid the community of violence, poverty, bad educational systems, etc., and I have previously failed to connect that desire to the Israelites' desire for a king. We are all in search of a King. We are all in search of someone that's going to fix what's wrong. And the imperfect leaders remind us of that desire and that need.
  • Songs. I love song lyrics and the ease with which they connect me to emotions (which are buried deep-down inside) and certain people, certain situations, and times of my life. I can't hear "I try" by Macy Gray without thinking of a seventh-grade track meet when someone sang it stepping off the bus. I just got the new Taylor Swift cd and like the songs. 
  • Swimming. The smell of chlorine (or clorox, or any bleach.) It is like a relaxant - the smell and the movement. Maybe I will go swimming today... 

Monday, November 1, 2010

A life of berakot for a week of Yes-vember

Remember my "Learning to Pray Like Jesus" class? I almost didn't. I had started to forget how many devout Jewish pray-ers lived a life of berakot (blessings). Their acknowledgment of blessings infiltrated their whole life, not just their prayer life. (There's a brief definition here.) And a little more detailed information here that says practicing Jewish persons are supposed to pray a prayer of berakah 100 times a day. Maybe when I return home, I'll find my notes and be able to give you more details. Or you can click on the label "berakah" to read about it, although some of them are simply labeled "berakah" because they are things I was thankful for.

In the spirit of fall, and a time when I've recognized that I spend very little time deeply reflecting on anything, and a time when it's really easy for me to be happy because it is blue and sunny and time for neutral-colored clothes and sweaters and hot chocolate and applesauce and snuggling under an OSU blanket - I am going to write one post per day this week, recognizing what blessings I have and what I feel blessed with.  (For those of you who have seen me really chattery and know just how annoyingly positive I can be, don't worry; the lists will be non-exhaustive.)

I know some will seem very shallow, some might actually appear negative, and some will be so insightful that you'll wish you could have voted for me for governor, but my goal for the week is to put only things that I do feel grateful for or blessed with, and to reflect on the berakot that I list. I'm hoping not all are shallow.

Please leave comments of berakot in your life - or if they're personal, call or text me because I'd like learning them about you.

Today's Berakot:

  • Free pretzel sticks at Max & Erma's this week with a "good neighbor" card!
  • Blue skies, crisp fall weather, a new (er, return to an old) office with a window that I can stare out of. And apparently, write blog posts and eat apples instead of getting work done. This leads into another blessing of not having very much work this morning so that this window-cubicle-distraction is acceptable.
  • Friends who don't mind watching a movie on my computer screen, as it sits on top of a TV tray, as we cram onto a sofa bed. (Yes, we pull out the sofa bed to watch movies. I think four might be our maximum number of viewers though.)
  • Friends who ask me how I'm doing - and do it so that I know they want a real, true answer. My roommate is careful to do this, and yesterday at church, two girls came up to ask me how I was and said "We know you have an I'm-Julie-so-I'm-okay thing, but we really want to know how you are." I loved it. Except... I was okay, so I felt a little bit like I had to make up a more detailed answer. Okay, as this berakah is evolving, I'm really expanding it to friendships in general, because I have felt very affirmed in my friendships the past few days.
  • Free doughnuts in the staff room! (or rather... doughnuts sitting out in the break room that nobody is guarding.)
  • Pretty work clothes. See "trouser pants."
  • Leadership roles.
  • Babies!! I love my friend's baby (her name is Ella.) I have lots of pictures of her on my phone. That's what I do when her mommy leaves us alone. Also, I teach Ella about chlorophyll and what makes a triangle a triangle.
  • Joy - I am an optimistic person (except for in certain areas of my life) and think joy comes to me pretty naturally. I am really thankful that I see positives and beauty in the world around me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a lot of what's, but not in the tone that means 'huh' or 'are you serious?' Because I am most definitely smiling.

What I've been decorating:
Pumpkins and scarecrow cupcakes! (Scarecrow is not pictured here, don't worry.)

What I've been cooking:
Dark chocolate, Walnut, & Golden Raisin Cookies
Tuscan-Baked Chicken and Beans
Brie, Apple, & Arugula Quesadilla
Fall Vegetable Curry
and a ginger-pear-pomegranate crisp/ crumble that I won't bother posting the recipe for, because I don't think I followed any single step to make. I loved it, so if you ever see a recipe for one, it's worth trying. Add some other fall spices too, and it still tastes good.

What I've been running:
Finished the Columbus Marathon (that's number two for me), and still like running!

What I've been thinking: 

I finally watched the documentary Babies. I am struck by the cultural differences between the babies in the film. As an American, I think we are quick to assume that we have the right idea and that we have the only right idea. I watch the mother of the African baby wipe her baby on her leg and then clean her leg with a cornhusk. Immediately, we shudder and comment on the grossness and lack of hygiene. But what really determines the best option? Is our diaper plan the best because we are used to it, or is our diaper plan the best for all standards? Okay, I think hygiene might be on our side in this debate - unless you recall that too much hand sanitizer doesn't allow children to build up their immune systems and that is one explanation for the increased amount of allergies. But diapers add to landfills, plastics production, and more. How can we expect other countries to adopt our ways to deal with infant waste? 

I think this is analogous to a lot of educational reform issues (did I mention I also recently saw the documentary Waiting for 'Superman'?). Education-people tend to approach educational psychology and pedagogy with the same outlook that they learned through their educational experience. (Similar also to the cyclicality of physical abuse – parents who were abused are more likely to abuse their children than non-abused parents.) It’s not that the errors of our ways are ignored, but that we are more accepting of mistakes or errors in ways that are the norm or that we are used to. We think that our form of education is the best because it’s what helped those who plan the future of education succeed. We think that our childrearing ways are the best, because they are what we are used to. It is difficult for us to accept foreign ideas because we have preconceived notions that generally reflect our upbringing or experience: future experience is based off past experience. If you want to learn more about different styles of learning (but only if you want to), feel free to look at the blog of my cognition class: or ask me to send you my critical reflection on Waiting for 'Superman'. Bottom line? Guggenheim (the producer/ director) doesn't have the answer either. He is simply, like the rest of us, still waiting for a Superman.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A photo album!

Or if that doesn't work, go to this link:

I'll be ordering a hard copy so that I can still talk with you all about my trip, but here are my photos and there are small descriptions with each photo, so I think you will be to
a) grasp the beauty of the Andes mountains
b) see the love in the kids' faces
c) understand what's going on in each photo. Except the photo of the alpaca. He (she?) just wanted to hang out on the soccer field with some friends, so we took some photos. And then he/she spit at a team member who got too close, kind of like our old Aladdin game for Sega.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Teaser!

Hey, so that's kind of cool, Shutterfly! That's not what I was picturing the 4 pictures doing... endlessly rotating through a 4 second slideshow... but I sorted a few out for you.

Yes, Bakes, I am lifting very heavy rocks. Truth be told... they didn't trust me with any heavy construction work. Most of the time, they had me lifting pebbles or cleaning up broken bricks or something demeaning. (Just kidding, it wasn't demeaning.) I am a bit awful at shoveling, it turns out. We had a system of 5 of us rotating through positions to hoist buckets of sand to the top of/ other side of a wall, and when it was supposed to be my turn to shovel... the rotation changed so that I did another position twice. And then later, they let me shovel because "It's good to have different tempos because then we get some rest." (Although, if I am being honest, not only was I slow but I kept injuring those around me. So the slow tempo- shoveler (myself) was only used when the person holding the buckets was very patient, forgiving, and had strong finger bones.)

Picture 2: The roads on a normal day. There were much worse days than this. 

Picture 3: Playing juegos (games, not the Spanish word for Legos) with the children. You can see the top of my head in the bottom left. I'm intensely focused on the UNO game.

Picture 4: What trip would be complete without the required OHIO photos? 
This is going to turn into a long post because I have a post waiting from a few months ago when I baked some chocolate chip cookies using a new recipe. Verdict? No better or worse than other recipes.

I promised a friend a surprise package - and I don't know what to put in surprise packages other than cookies. So I thought I'd make chocolate chip, because, let's be honest - what other options are there? I decided to test a new recipe from my grandmother. The handwriting down the side of the recipe is the recipe - doubled. That's a great sign. And, to give these cookies a fair test, I wanted to do it without substitutions. Guess how long that lasted?
If you guessed not long, you... are right.

Adapted from: Kitchen to Kitchen, Bev's Chocolate Chip Cookies
1. Sift dry ingredients in a bowl.
3/4 c rolled oats (Recipe says to grind in a food processor, but that was a dish I didn't want to wash.)
1 c whole-wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

In an electric mixer, beat 1/4 cup softened butter until fluffy. (I used 5 t instead of 4 because that was the amount left on the stick. But feel that this substitution equals out the over-measured whole wheat flour.)
Add to the butter:
1/4 canola oil
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar (Not quite there. I'll just add a little more vanilla. And vanilla syrup. And they will be sweet.)
1 large egg
1 "heaping" teaspoon vanilla (plus 1 T vanilla syrup)

While the mixer is running, add dry ingredients until mixed well.
Stir in 1 c chocolate chips. (Not even sure how to measure what I did.)
My chocolate chips spent too long in the car. And I don't want to run to the store. I tried peeling them apart - messy. But I washed my hands!

Or was that after?

And then I gave up and wanted to melt the chocolate chips and just stir them in to get what I think was about a cup. But I ran into a problem. See, unlike my unnatural fear of dried beans, I have a completely natural fear of melting chocolate. I have almost never done it correctly, regardless of melting method and how closely I actually follow instructions. Julie is trying to melt chocolate? Then it's almost guaranteed it will go from solid to burned. In 15 seconds.

Yep, curse: still on. Bye-bye, chocolate chips. The batter looks okay enough, I guess.

Bake the cookies at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are firm and golden on top. If you can make 2 1/2 dozen out of this, apparently it hovers around 100 calories. Good luck with that - it's like cooking dessert from Cooking Light: one serving size = approximately one bite. I made about 16 cookies out of this; could've made 20, maybe.
They had a little heartier flavor than the typical chocolate chips. Nothing I'd rave about more than I rave about my other chocolate chip cookie recipes. Got any good ones you would share?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

kutima naykama, andahuaylas!

That means "see you in a long time, Andahuaylas!"

I am back from the mission trip to Peru - and I loved it there. I want to go back! The culture, the kids, the languages (Spanish and Quechua) were all easy for me to slip into for the 9 days we were there. Please be patient as our internet is not working, so it is hard to update this to tell you all about it.

While you're waiting on the edge of your seat for my typewritten report, you can look at It's a site where all team members were invited to share their pictures. There are/ will be many, but I hope to pull some favorites out of there for blog posts. Soon. I hope.

I can give you a quote to keep you entertained?

My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
- Vladimir Nabokov

Or we can just wait in silent expectation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

If people never did anything silly, nothing intelligent would ever get done. - ludwig wittgenstein

I really like Joy the Baker ( for two main reasons:
1. Pretty much everything she makes gets starred in my google reader. (Starred means "I want to try this.")
2. She wears a headlamp to read in bed. And she admitted it on her blog. One of my pastors also admitted to wearing a headlamp, and I think it is one of the best ideas and misused products out there.

That said, these chocolate chip cookie dough balls have been starred since June 29. I made them yesterday - kind of.

I tried to make them yesterday.

Please, oh college athlete in me, recall the annoying adages about "do or do not, there is no try."

I restate: I tried to make them yesterday.

This was some of the most delicious cookie dough that I've ever tasted. Greek yogurt instead of eggs equals pure deliciousness. But I think I used too much yogurt, or too little flour, because these balls sprawled on the pan like they were ready to get a nice little tan and cookie-skin-cancer in the oven. I had assumed that the balls would be firm like the peanut butter part of Buckeyes, but these were not. I then assumed that cookie dough freezes into a peanut-butter-part-of-the-Buckeye-consistency, but, alas, it does not. Note to self: the single serving size of Greek yogurt should be measured to see if it is more the 2/3 cup. Next note to self: Flour should actually be measured with the knife evening out the top rather than assuming the little mound on the top adds a quarter cup.


I let them freeze overnight, as per directions, and then the next morning began my task of melting chocolate and dipping it in. I believe I've mentioned my ineptitude at melting chocolate. To be honest, my ability is not simply inept, it is more antagonistic: melted chocolate is my cooking enemy. The last time I made Buckeyes, I went through three bags of chocolate chips, began crying, and told my housemates that we would no longer have Buckeyes at the wedding shower and instead would have peanut butter balls. Yes, that was my senior year of college. Why do you ask? A housemate bought a bag of chocolate chips and melted them for me. It worked.

So instead of melting chocolate, I used Nestle's pre-melted baking chocolate packets! Super good idea! Oh, except that they were unsweetened. Okay, let's add some powdered sugar! Super good idea - er, good idea? Oops, too thick. Add another packet of chocolate. Good idea - er, this is (no exaggeration) beginning to look like burned chocolate. How is it possible that I can burn pre-melted chocolate simply by stirring in powdered sugar? (The college athlete in me says, "If you can dream it, you can achieve it!")

Then I tried to dip some cookie dough balls in the chocolate-powdered sugar mix. Didn't work. Idea! I spread some of it on top of the ball. That lasted for about three balls. And then they went back to the freezer.

In other news... I have a freezer full of cookie dough that can't be baked. But they are frozen enough to be stab-able now, so I've been using lollipop sticks to pick them up off the cookie sheet.

Creativity. It's just not as appreciated in the kitchen.

p.s. We have some decorations in our house! And a couch! Come visit!
p.p.s. I leave for Peru on Saturday!

Friday, August 13, 2010

this post is like a post-script to about 3 other posts...

Remember when we used to sign our letters, then write "p.s." and then add another line with "p.p.s" and so on? I think my letters ended up having more p.s.'s than actual lines above the signature.

p.s. I got a grill for our back patio! And grilled vegetables and hot dogs, and all were delicious.

p.p.s. Anonymous requested that I put up a picture of my battle wound, so all of you are going to have to see it. Perhaps that's why it was requested by anonymous? Below, you can see most of the length of the bruise (which never got very dark, actually) and then also a little different shape in my ankles. I didn't notice that until Monday at the Reds/ Cardinals game.

p.p.p.s. I went to the Reds/ Cardinals game on Monday! Got to sit in the 13th row, which is close enough to watch the field easier than the screen - it's like a whole different game down there! Got to see a grand slam (by the Cardinals)... good thing I was just wearing red. I was supposed to be Switzerland but the Reds didn't offer that much to cheer for. I was, unfortunately, one day early for the big fight. Youtube it. It's awesome. Read Carpenter's quotes about the fighting skills of the Reds. No one (either team) was ever a hockey player. That much is obvious.

p.p.p.p.s. I was actually worried about the swelling because I was afraid it happened while running, rather than the swelling from the shin just dripping down into my ankle (sorry to my doctor friends who wince at my medical explanations)... but today (one week later) it's finally bruised and blackened, so I believe it is from the fall and not from running. Which means I can continue training for marathon number two!

Pictures are not doing adequate "pity-me" justice, but I hope they are discolored enough that you think, "Whoa, Julie is one tough girl." Or a slight awe and admiration that I still managed to stop his head from hitting. Or at least, "At least she likes bruises."

Friday, August 6, 2010

be jubilee!

I moved! Yay! This was Kristi's birthday present to me, and it's hanging in our stairwell at the moment. Tomorrow's plan? A Wii party. We have no furniture in the downstairs - well, there's one bookcase - but that leaves plenty of room to canoe without smacking anyone or anything. Come visit! If you continue reading this post... you'll see that's a definite plus for me.

I also bought new rain shoes in Texas that are super-dute cute (but I can stand it). Last year, it was pink heels (which I still wear) and this year, it was blue plaid rain shoes. Much more grown up than my pink rain boots, and much easier to carry around if I need to bring a second pair of shoes with me, like when I'm pretending to be old.

Peru update - fundraising has gone splendidly. Thank you all for helping me out and praying for me and my team. I'll remind you before I leave (August 28) but all looks well. They increased our expected trip cost by $200, but you guys covered above what I asked and thus my savings will cover the increased cost. Thank you, thank you! On August 15 at 1:00, Veritas (my church) is having a Missions Lunch - I'll be giving a little 5 minute talk about my upcoming trip and a few other missionaries at Veritas will be talking too. This serves as your official invitation. No, I won't make you eat guinea pig.

I made this: Pesto Meatballs and Orzo Recipes - Pasta Main Dish Recipes - Meatball Recipes and it was tasty. I haven't made anything else spectacular in a while. I am craving some intricately-decorated something though. I'll let you know what I come up with.

Lastly, the reason that I just want to wrap myself up in protective gear/ bubble wrap/ why my 9-months-pregnant friend pitied me and suggested that I get a day to just recuperate... I have had a week of minor injuries. All of them fun to talk about, and none of them terribly painful (until today's.)
1. Last Thursday - I got stung by a bee. Or a horsefly. The last time that happened, Molly took me home from Kristi's soccer game - which means I was probably less than seven.
2. A week ago Friday - I walked to DQ for a Nerds blizzard (Calah, I thought of you) without socks. My shoes have over 500 miles on them - they should be broken in, right? No. The walk ended with a blister and me bleeding through my shoe. But the Nerds Blizzard made it home.
3. Later that day - I stepped on a teeny-tiny piece of glass. It came out, but I had to hop on one foot out of the crawl space, up the stairs, through the kitchen, and into the bathroom so that I didn't drip blood on the white carpet.
4. Today: I promised (emphatically) that I would catch my little swimmers' heads as they swam backstroke.
"DO NOT turn around," I said. "I will get your head if your head is going to hit the wall."
Swimmers 1 and 2: turn around about halfway down the pool.
Me: "What are you doing? I said not to turn around!"
Swimmers 1 and 2: giggle giggle. Oh, hey! Look at Swimmer 3!
Swimmer 3, in a dramatic change of events, is SPRINTING across the pool, head-first, aimed right at the wall with no shot of having an arm hit first, about three giant steps from me. I then SPRINT two of the three giant steps - slip on step 3, wonder in the air if I'm going to need mouth-to-mouth, land somehow on the corner of the pool, with my leg on something painful (the corner of the pool, I'm guessing), one hand blocking Swimmer 3's head from hitting (successfully, I might add) and my other arm sprawled on the other wall of the pool. If it hadn't been the corner, I would've been in the pool. 
I'm pretty sure I bruised my shin bone. The actual bone. Swimmers 1 and 2 immediately said "that's why WE turned around!" to which I grimaced a smile out and pretended not to care that my leg was stunned. It hurts to walk on it... but the swelling went down after I iced it. It currently has about a 6-inch red bruise line running the length of my shin, accompanied by small swelling (just iced) and hopefully, a deep blue bruise as of tomorrow. As much as it hurts, it would hurt me much more inside if it were this painful and showed no outward signs of it.
I don't think that will be too much of an issue.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Unsanitized Christianity sermon series: The Design of Men and Women

This is not a requirement, but for those of you who are interested, I would love for you to listen to the sermon from July 25 on "The Design of Men and Women" from I have been praying about and studying roles of men and women from the Scriptures and other theologians. Many denominations do not allow women to hold pastoral roles in the church - often, women can lead women or sort of "work the sidelines" but not be ordained as a pastor. The CRC (Christian Reformed Church, Calvin College's denomination) does allow women to be ordained.

Upon graduation and finding Veritas Church in Columbus, I was dismayed to find out that they do not. I struggled with this for a while (and am still struggling, of course) but that's what made me begin my little research on this. I looked up the CRCs opinions and debate when they allowed women to be ordained as a pastor in 2000. See here for a quick summary, or the link at the very top of the page is what I read - the two positions, for and against, before they took the vote. I read the CRC's position - and was dismayed again! To summarize their point of view, the Scripture passages about women being submissive to men in church were declared contextual rules for the church (mainly of Corinth and for those times.) Women weren't educated and did not have any legal say during those times, so of course you don't want someone leading a church if the church members might not respect them! However, the CRC claimed that Scripture passages about women being submissive to men in marriage were not just contextual rules but are still valid today, for all cultures. That's because of the picture the relationship then paints: it mirrors that of Christ and the Church. The CRC argued that marriage as a metaphor is very much relevant and necessary.

I didn't like that. I was just seeing it as women are totally equal, because they're not less than men. I do believe that women and men have different tendencies or natural roles - like, women tend to be more nurturing than men, and men can (usually) beat women in athletics naturally. But those things are hard to compare; they don't mean that one sex is better than the other.

So I started reading more and praying a lot more about it after I found out I didn't like the CRC's position. A real possibility is that what is wrong is my view. So I have prayed - God, open my eyes to Your Word so that I can see what You have declared, and not just read what I want to read. If we all did that, then you could justify slavery, divine appointments for everything, and sending bears to devour children if they call you "Baldie."

Listen to the sermon and tell me what you think! A lot of it made sense to me - a lot of it rubbed me the wrong way - a lot of it was challenging not just to enact but to comprehend.

Nick's main points:

  • we are all under the submission and authority of God (I Cor 11:3)
  • Uncovered heads (v. 4-6) were a way to rebel to the cultural norms - this may be something like refusing to wear a wedding ring or not changing your last name in today's world, IF your reason for not doing those is to flaunt your independence. Those things are certainly not required but are the norm in the US today.
  • We don't need marriage to make us a complete picture of God, but we need both sexes to in the world and Church to be the complete picture of Christ (I Cor 11:11)
  • Submission does not mean "lesser than." Our mindset interprets submission as a bad thing, but Christ submits to God the Father and we should be striving to be like Christ.
  • The relationship between husband and wife reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church. Just as Christ gave His life for the church, and the church submits to Christ, looking up to Him for our breath and life, so the husband should be giving up his life (metaphorically) for his wife, and the wife loving and holding fast in the faith that he will act toward her with more respect than toward himself.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Spy Bar

I went to a spy bar (called The Safe House) in Milwaukee this weekend - it was quite amazing. The escape route/ secret exit was closed, and I've heard that's one of the best things about it, but I would say it was still worth it. There are no advertisements or signs for the bar, and to enter, you either have to know the password or do some silly task (usually involving a hula hoop or the can-can) for the bookshelf to open up and let you in. Once inside, there are televisions monitoring the entrance room so that you can see what people have to do. There are a lot of spy-things (decor, jails, ejection seats, one-way windows) inside. It was great.

As was Milwaukee- I was there visiting Cara and Nate. First thing on the docket? Eclipse. (For me and Cara, anyway. Not Nate.) It was great - the wolves actually looked scary, not like the little arctic pups they appeared to be in the second movie... only complaint was that one character (who has been in all three films) suddenly generated a Southern accent after reminiscing about his past. Oops. Maybe the directors should have thought of that before filming the first two movies? Or at least before starting to film this one?

From all of this, I managed to take one picture - of funfetti brownies: a birthday cake for Cara and I! (Our birthdays are a week apart.) And then I didn't want Nate to feel left out, and immediately forgot how old he really is (24) so I added an "& 5". Luckily, going one year older means that I just pretended it was a birthday cake for his birthday... coming up in March?
Oh well. I'll let you know if I attempt to create any other fancy treats, but I might be all sweeted out from those brownies right now. And the free cookie on the plane. Here are my next recipes I want to try:
And... just so you know that I am still the Julie you all know and love (yes, I am wearing mismatched pajamas right now... but I was actually talking about sweets): Chocolate chip cookie dough balls

I'll let you know what is going on - I think I'm going to have a lot of life updates in the next few weeks. And my Peru fundraising is going really well! Thanks everybody!!! Please remember to pray for me and my team, especially once we're down there. Our plane tickets were supposedly purchased on Friday.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Congratulations, America! Another year of independence: achieved!

Because I don't have any pictures from the weekend (a direct result of leaving the camera in the car) I will attempt to recap the weekend in a humorous and witty way. I found this weekend a set of hilarious mishaps, so I will share here. And if you want to know more details, feel free to ask me. I just am not planning to subject all three of you who read this blog to all the details.

The weekend begins with grandparents and
smores (as if you didn't know that was coming),
wearing red-white-and-blue tie-dye to celebrate our land.
She stares into the smoke of the campfire, watching the embers,
watching the sparks, the flames be fanned,
watching Grandpa's marshmallow go from uncooked to charred
in ten seconds flat.

A long car drive later...

A sunny day with friends at a beach named the Bowl?
What in the name of Lake Michigan could be greater?
it turns out that the Bowl is named because it is a giant sand dune crater,
and with no clouds in the sky and no foot-shaped ice packs -
She quickly became a hater.
A slight pause for dramatic effect as I check the soles of my feet for blisters. There are none- but I am legitimately surprised. 
It was too sunny to have too much fun,
but they played in the surf and the waves and the towels until later,
they winced their way back up and down the formidable crater,
leaving a cell phone behind with a friend - she wouldn't have climbed back over
if you'd have paid her.

Part of the problems with cell phone usage nowadays is that I rarely look up directions to anywhere. Cell phones have google maps for directions, and other people's phone numbers for directions. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of a small lake town without any knowledge of anything except the direction west. The lake narrowed down our possible directions to head from four to three. Time until the wedding? One hour.

The kind words of a biker led the girls close to their desired spot - but first!
a Captain Sundae!
And in the bathroom of the Captain, the girls wiped off the worst
of the sand, sun, and stream; trading their suits and their shades for black dress -- and ice cream.
And with ten minutes to spare, the girls pulled in - to an open driveway with a little girl playing within.
"Please tell us, dear one, how to get to this church!"
"Mommy?" she called, as if they were cursed... (Maybe we should have offered her more candy?)
But Mommy and Daddy came out to save the day - turns out, the wedding's only five minutes away!
Now with five minutes to spare, we pulled in the church
and sat with dear friends, watching the wedding couple burst
with joy.

And then we went bowling, and I only threw the ball behind me one time.
The songs were plentiful, the pins were not (or were, depending on how you look at it),
My phone returned, to Ohio I went back,
leaving you, dear reader, to know that I wish you a happy weekend
and that you'd cut my writing some slack.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Guess what? I'm back.

I think most everyone knows that I am going on a mission trip to Peru at the end of June, but I'm putting this brief little information up here!

In the spirit of loving God and loving others, I have prayed about and decided to join a mission team to Andahuaylas, Peru, for nine days this summer. 

You may be wondering what could have possibly inspired me to sign on to a mission trip in the Andes Mountains. Was it because the dates fit perfectly in between quarters and summer weddings? Because the word Peruvian rolls off the tongue so nicely? Maybe it was because the trip had an asterisk next to its name that signified a possibility of “intense physical demands”? (Let’s be honest, that was influential.) Or that the organization we’ll be working with has a care program for children and a program for mothers to create micro-businesses? (If you have heard me talk about Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristof or other women’s issues, you already know that I strongly support micro-businesses for women.)

Those are great reasons, but the catalyst was the constant reminder that God has placed before me (and all of us) to take care of the widow, the orphan, and the exile. That call guides and inspires my research at OSU, and I believe that this trip will teach me more about loving God and loving others, particularly in this village.

This trip will work with ministries already in place (see and our work will include evangelism, work in a family-owned children’s center that also fosters micro-businesses for the mothers, and transporting Bibles to nearby homes. The trip is through Heritage Christian Church in Westerville, Ohio, and it is the church’s first trip to this location. It’s scheduled for August 28 through September 6 of this summer.

My other summer plans include some trips to Michigan, some weddings, some running, some studying neuroscience (yeah, that's going really well) and developing an online course based on the child development course that I taught spring quarter. That will end up being my Masters project, so it will be great to get that out of the way and to get some credit for the work.

This quarter, I'm taking a course on Structural Equation Modeling (again, but the professor doesn't know that!) and adolescent literature (for teachers). 
I recommend: 
Witness  - Karen Hesse. A story of the KKK entering a small, Vermont town told from many characters. 
Jacob Have I Loved - katherine paterson - Interesting to read just after reading the (adult-ish) novel Prep. Both have these incredibly self-focused narrators in which the reader can easily tell the narrator has a skewed perception. It makes me think about how I am viewing the world. 

I'm sure I'll have more, but there are still 3 more weeks of that class!

After this week (I actually have a lot of work this week) I hope to have time to cook some yummy things with fresh fruit and veggies, as well as to read Sense and Sensibility. I've never read it before, so I thought I should. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

such 'citing things!

Gah, a couple updates.
1. Guess where I was?
2. Guess what I won in Denver?
An honorable mention for my lovely poster! (See it? It;s the little paper tacked to the corner.) That's me, next to my poster. We had fun in Denver that's not photographed here, including mostly restaurants and some really fun runs in the sunrise because 5:30 in Denver felt so late! I was at a conference for Society for Prevention Research (actually, my honorable mention won me a year membership) and we talked a lot about preventing things.

3. Guess what I've been cooking?
Some yummy chocolate chip cookies for Stephen for suggesting a good label name for my creeper stories (although they're temporarily on hiatus since it's warm enough to bike again.)
And I had a nice attempt at making cereal. It kind of worked, except the liquid didn't spread all the way out, so there are some cereal-pieces and then some burnt-oat pieces... But I liked it. And I'm going to try again. Now, can someone tell me why More with Less doesn't explain how to add in extremely condensed marshmallow charms?

4. Guess where I'm going this summer? Everywhere. I will update more later!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Marshmallow Test

Delayed gratification at pre-school age is associated with higher SAT scores, interpersonal skills, and a lot more good things. A mom in my class tried to give this test to her son, and he just said, "Well, fine. I'll just take this one now." So we don't think it works if it's someone you're not afraid of offending.

Notice the distraction technique for the boy who makes it the whole way through - he looks everywhere else for a while!

P.S. Sitting in Pittsburgh right now. Working on a paper. (See how well that's going?)

Monday, April 5, 2010

"I know Chuck Liddell" and other fun times on public transit

I will send a special treat to whoever comes up with a creative label name for my bus stories. I ride the COTA almost daily and have some lovely conversations - some might say more than average. I've decided that rather than make off-handed comments, I'm just going to share my stories with you here. Welcome to a bus ride in the life of Julie. (I'll have a few stories here, and add more as they come up.) I resolve to not exaggerate - know that I rarely start conversations, although I do the smile/ head nod hello when I get on the bus. And BusGuy will be my generic name. Not the same guy.

Story one: My most disconcerting story that I can remember as of now.
Julie: gets on the bus. Hair is down (first mistake.) Sits in one of the only empty seats.
BusGuy: Was sitting in the front, stands up, and walks to the seat across from me. Asks the guy in the seat if he can sit there - guy looks at him strangely but stands up in the aisle. BusGuy sits, leans around the aisle-stander, and says, "Hi."
Julie: Hi...
Conversation ensures. BusGuy has a dalmatian named Clinton that he's going to Krogers to buy a dog biscuit for. Used to have a dog named Hilary too, but she died. BusGuy finds out that my name is Julie, that I grew up in Westerville, that I graduated in 2003 (at this point, I turn into Kristi so that he can't find me if he looked me up later.)
Julie: gets off at her stop (before the Krogers.)
BusGuy: Well, if I see you again then I'll tell you my last name!
Julie: practices her sprinting...

Story two (today's story): I have just finished a 9 mile run, and stopped at the library to pick up the book It's So Amazing: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families (from the author of It's Perfectly Normal). So I look for a place to sit where no one will be downwind or within reading distance of this lovely book where the chapter on birth is called "Come out, come out, wherever you are!"
BusGuy: (stands up from a few rows behind.) Mind if I sit here?
Julie: Go ahead. (Do I smell that bad that within an instant he needs to move so he's not behind me???)
BusGuy: mumblemumble.
Julie: What?
BusGuy: I know Chuck Liddell.
Julie: Oh.
BusGuy: He's an ultimate fighter.
Julie: ... Cool... (He's still looking at me) ... Have you ever tried to fight him?
BusGuy: Nope.
Julie: Oh. (Hides book. Is he going to see the parrot asking if the baby is pooped out? Is he going to smell me?)
Eventually, after I'm also not terribly impressed that BusGuy has recently quit smoking, he moves up a seat. Must've started breathing through his nose.

Labels for the blog, anyone?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

(New recipes) by (activities) and (thoughts) over (rusted pipes)

Supposedly, I just shared my spring break photo album on blogger. We'll see if that actually happens after I type this post. I led a group of 6 undergrads around Columbus and we served with different organizations every day, tried new desserts, and I learned that cows can have runny noses.

I tried a new recipe called baked oatmeal - you bake it in a pan and it has an "oat-cake" consistency but it can be eaten like pancakes, with fruit, syrup, etc. Loved it! I also made tasty sour cream pound cakes but without pictures, I feel like I have no proof! Maybe I'll make them in my mini bundt cake pans...

Summing up school (in this case, just teaching Child Development): Can I say (and will anyone be surprised?) I forgot how much I enjoy sitting in front of a group of people who have to listen to me. It's like I'm sitting in front of 120 people who not only have to listen, but can't really respond. (Obviously, that's a bit of an exaggeration and I hope it's more active than that, but they still get to hear all my stories.) I found out I'll be presenting a paper at the Society for Prevention Research in Denver this June - once I know something about what I'm presenting and how the politics will all play out, I'll let you all in on the delectable piece of knowledge.

New activities! Remember my New Year's resolution to learn something new? How about soccer? Rock climbing (not really new, but a re-start.)? Catching a Frisbee under my leg? That was my previous week. I scored a goal - when the goalie was actually guarding, no less - and I enjoyed it, "retro" shoes and all. I rock-climbed a 2+ without failing, except for the safety portion... Minor setback. Catching the Frisbee under my leg was not my greatest success story, as my strategy was to just pick up a leg (any leg) and simply try to catch the frisbee, whether my hand was behind my leg, on the other side of my body, or waving above my head. One piece at a time.

Let me sum up power steering for you: You. Want. It.
Let me sum up repair on the power-steering-fluid-pipe-thing: You don't want to have to repair it.

Lastly, I want to sum up a little about my thoughts on Easter this year. Last year, I was not a happy camper at Easter - and I remember pitiful-ole-Julie whining to God, "Why meeee?? What a hoooorrible weekend!" (In the same tone that a little towhead once whined about not getting chocolate for Easter.)
Then, realizing that as glorious as Easter is, the first Easter was a much more horrible weekend. Why?
Because the people that were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah had just watched Him die. They completely lost their hope. You know the namesake demotivator? It's a picture of a sunset with the phrase, "It's always darkest just before it's pitch black." That's what the disciples were going through. On Thursday, they watched Jesus get arrested. Pretty bleak. But maybe,  if He's really God - they'd say - he'll save himself! On Friday, they see Him die and get taken down to a tomb. Er - more black. Could this get any worse?
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: YEEEESSSS.
Saturday was the Sabbath day for the Jews - which meant they weren't permitted to work or distract themselves with any activity, including cooking. They went to the temple and would have had to worship their God, knowing that the man they thought was their Savior had died. And from sunup to sundown, they would have been able to do virtually nothing but think. Now that's black. And Sunday morning rolls around, even blacker. The beliefs were that the spirit left a dead body after three days. Sunday was the third day - there was absolutely no hope left. No god could do anything now - Jesus was really dead. What a suck-y weekend.

What a great God, who, as we know by now, did rise on the third day.

What a way to make someone feel bad for whining.

With such a great few previous weeks, I found myself wishing that I were in want and could understand more about the significance of Easter weekend and the spirit of waiting and leaning on God.

In summary - "He is not here, for He has risen!" - Matthew 28:6a

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cooking with Julie! a.k.a. who really follows recipes anyway?

Barley, Butternut Squash, and Shiitake Risotto

This is what I made today. With a number of variations. I'm sharing my recipe and the original, entitling this post "Cooking With Julie" because I've recently had a number of people act very interested when I tell them I "cook." I have to clarify which definition I'm using. That's what the quotes mean.
a. Cook, v., as in "create a food dish that is enjoyable to eat."
b. Cook, v., as in "fumbles ingredients into something swallowable." 
I'm normally b. This butternut squash - mushroom (kind of, see edits) - barley risotto might actually belong in the (a) category. And I altered a number of things (see my attention levels) and it was still tasty and delicious. 


  • 3  cups  (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds) When I need to cut butternut squash, I usually put it in the oven for about 10 minutes because the skin softens a little bit. I just used a butternut squash. No measurements.
  • 3  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
  • 3/4  teaspoon  kosher salt, divided
  • 2  cups  thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 1/2 pound) Don't really like mushrooms... but I put some in anyway. Probably the equivalent of 1 oz. (But it worked out for me.)
  • 1/3  cup  finely chopped red onion
  • 1  cup  uncooked pearl barley Hmm, yeah, I don't know if I used pearl barley. I used a Quaker box that says "Medium barley."
  • 2  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2/3  cup  white wine  Did you know wine goes bad after you open it? I thought it just kept getting better. This is a long way for me to say "I used water instead of wine." (Go ahead, insert religious miracle joke here.)
  • 3 1/2  cups  organic vegetable broth Hey, actually did this one!
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 4  ounces  Taleggio cheese, diced So, the cheese connoisseur at Meijer didn't know what this was. And I didn't remember that it suggests Brie if you can't find Taleggio. So I shredded some smoked Gouda cheese. Good choice. 
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh thyme leaves Need I even say whether I really included this or not?


1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Combine squash, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss well to coat. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes, stirring once.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes or until browned (or until they burn and stick to the bottom of the pan about 30 seconds later. Burn #1), stirring occasionally. Transfer mushroom mixture to a bowl; keep warm.
4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan. Add onion; saute 4 minutes or until tender (or until they, too, burn and stick to the bottom of the pan some time later. Burn #2 - but apparently, burnt onions are a good thing!), stirring occasionally. Add barley and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed. Add broth, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is nearly absorbed. Remove from heat (Burn #3 - a finger); add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in squash, mushrooms, and thyme. Serve immediately.
Go out and make someone's day today (or tomorrow, depending on when you read this.) Psychologists have found that meaningful conversations mean more than small talk - start a meaningful conversation! Somewhere, I read an article that says people respond better when physically touched - students in school who receive physical contact from the teacher (i.e., a tap on the arm) are more likely to answer questions in class. Plus, people are happier when they hold hands... but I can't find the real source right now. Sorry! But look on the bright side - I just summarized some reading for you!