Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Recent" adventure

Noel attended the Annual Meeting for the Academy of Homiletics at the beginning of December. It was held in Washington D.C, so I decided to go with and visit Uncle Kevin and Aunt Karen in Maryland. After we made our plans to go, Becky and Bryant moved to Maryland and we were able to see them as well! It was a fantastic trip. We enjoyed good food and fellowship with friends and family and even got to witness an unusual Maryland snow storm!
Kevin and Karen have a beautiful home on a beautiful piece of property. We enjoyed seeing their house, their animals and their beautiful yard!

We were so excited to take this picture for Grandma's annual Christmas letter, but our submission was too late. Oh well, maybe next year!

Becky and I wandered around downtown D.C for an afternoon and just happened to see the lighting of the Christmas tree at the White House! We knew it was happening the evening we were in town, but had no idea when. Shortly after we walked up, the tree was lit! It was far away, but still beautiful and very exciting.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time

No we have not fallen off the planet.
Yes we do have things to blog about.
No we do not have any time lately.
Yes we will try and get up to date on this soon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I love Thanksgiving!

I can't quite explain why, but I just fell in love with Thanksgiving this year. I was SO excited for Thanksgiving. I could hardly wait on Wednesday night. I think I was even more excited than I've ever been for Christmas! I fell in love with a break from the routine. I loved having 4 days in a row that my alarm didn't go off, that I could spend time cooking and baking, that I could wear sweatpants everyday (oh wait, I do that quite often anyway), and that it was QUIET around here.
Though the setting was all wrong for a "real" Thanksgiving (80 + degrees, A/C on, no big table), it was still a great weekend.
I was overcome with thankfulness this year, for food, for friends, for family, for time, for quiet, and for my husband, who just happens to be a great preacher (he preached at church on Sunday).
Hopefully we'll make it back to Michigan for Thanksgiving one of these years, so that Thanksgiving can actually take place in the "right" setting, but for now, Thanksgiving has become more of a spirit to me and less of a setting.
And yes, I did love the pumpkin pie.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fall fun

Well, I'm struggling getting these pictures in order, so you'll just have to start from the bottom.

Last weekend, Noel and I were able to get away for some r and r in Temecula. I've been wanting to make caramel apples for a couple of weeks, but haven't been able to find a spare moment! So, I brought all the supplies to Temecula and had a "kitchen craft time" with Marcia on Sunday. It was tons of fun and they tasted great! I ordered 15 lbs of organic apples from our CSA and wanted to try making many different apple dishes. So far, I've made apple/pear crisp, caramel apples, baked apples, and have eaten lots plain and on salad. I'm thinking about applesauce, apple dumplings, or maybe more caramel apples. They were so fun to give to friends!



The finished product. I might completely cover them in chocolate next time, but swirling it was fun! We dipped them in caramel, crushed peanuts, and then swirled dark chocolate over them. Yum!!!!!

Dipping them in caramel.






Getting everything ready! Thanks for the help, Marcia! Also, thanks for a wonderfully relaxing weekend! It was just what we needed.





Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Housing Article

Check out this cool article that was in the Pasadena Star News yesterday! It's all about the bungalows we're moving into!

Let's hope they're right when they say we'll be moved in in 2 months! We're anxious to make the transition, but we're still waiting on paperwork from a couple of different departments.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oakland Avenue Red in Tooth and Claw!


So there I was, walking home from campus, minding my own business, when a big hawk flew right in front of me with a squirrel in its claw! It landed in a nearby tree about ten feet off the ground. As I cautiously approached to try and get a better look, the squirrel and hawk both fell/flew out at me. The hawk landed on a nearby minivan, then relocated to a higher branch to keep watch on the injured (but surprisingly not dead) squirrel. Thus began a half hour of Nature Channel on my block, which was especially unexpected since we live in the city. (There's a 12-lane highway at the end of our block.)

Several people from the nearby coffee shop came and got a better view of the action. We watched the bird watching the squirrel. We recreated the scene: "It had it in its claw!" We hoped the bird would not attack us. Some people felt bad for the squirrel, which was bleeding from the eye and not walking very well. I thought, "Well, that's what it means to be a carnivore," and wondered where they thought their own meat came from.

Then I ran home and grabbed the camera and snapped the above picture. But that's not all! I also grabbed my National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 4th edition, which Heidi just bought me for my birthday. I am not a birdwatcher; I just wanted to know more about birds. As best I could tell, it was some sort of red-tailed hawk (p. 116). But I'm not sure. Does anyone know anything about birds who could confirm or correct that ID?

Anyhow, that sure was a hoot. Actually, more of a "harsh, descending keeeeeer" (p. 116). I assume the hawk eventually got its dinner, but I didn't stay to see for sure. Thank God, I've got better things than squirrel to eat for dinner tonight. Mac 'n' cheese. Yum.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Our brother-in-law, Brian, is truly and amazing artist. He carved his wife, Heidi's, face into a pumpkin this year. I don't think I've ever seen such a great carving!

Click here to see this amazingness! Then click play on the time-lapse video.

Hope you all had a great Halloween and got more treats than tricks!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Housing Update

Well, we wish we had more to share for an update on our housing situation, but we are still waiting for documents from the Department of Real Estate as well as from the City of Pasadena.

Since some of you may not know the story of the house, here's a summary:
Noel was reading a flier put out by the City of Pasadena last July. In it, there was a very small paragraph about a company called Heritage Housing Partners (HHP). They are a company that makes housing available to low and moderate income people in Pasadena by utilizing different governmental programs. We decided to apply right before we left for Hawaii (the end of July). The day we returned, we received a phone call saying that we were finalists in the process and we needed to come in for an interview. A few weeks later, we interviewed (late August). A couple of days after the interview, we learned that we were selected and offered the house! Everything happened so quickly and we were quite overwhelmed, but excited by the news! Since then, we have been waiting for a final version of the purchasing contract to be ready for signing. This was supposed to be ready mid-September, but there have been many hold-ups from the different agencies involved. When we were offered the house, HHP said they hope everyone will close by November 30. We are still aiming for that date, but we're starting to think it may not happen.

The house is a very small 2 bedroom bungalow in a fantastic neighborhood. We are still hoping that everything works out in terms of the final cost and that we are able to close in time for the tax rebate offered this year.

We'll let you know once things become more final!

(If you click on the HHP link, we are part of the "Haskett Court Project". It's a community of 6 historic bungalows that are being restored.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A great birthday

I had a great birthday this past weekend! Noel and I enjoyed a nice dinner at a new restaurant, I ate at 21 Choices twice, and we were able to celebrate with friends, which was the best part of all.
We ate a delicious cake when we were in Hawaii that I really wanted to have for my birthday cake. It's called Chantilly Cake and is similar to a German Chocolate cake, but the frosting doesn't have coconut and it's a little less sweet. It turned out quite well, but didn't compare to the one we had in Hawaii. Oh well. We'll try again some other time.
Oops! The delay of the camera missed the blowing out of the candles!
The cake: 4 layers of a light chocolate flavor with a thin cream/custard layer between each cake layer. Then the chantilly frosting.
I haven't celebrated my birthday with a group of friends in many, many years, so it was really fun to have people over. I felt celebrated, special, and loved and am so appreciative to Noel for inviting everyone! Thanks for a great birthday, friends!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On not fitting in...

I've been back in school for a little over a month now completing some prereqs for a Master's in Nutrition program that I'd like to start next summer. When I decided to take my prereqs at Pasadena City College, I knew that I wouldn't blend in as the "typical" student. However, I only thought I wouldn't fit in since I'm "old" and married. Little did I know that every student in my chemistry class would have black hair except for me. Now I really stand out! I've never really been the minority and it's been a very interesting experience for me on learning to stay true to myself.
Before my first lab, the professor told us that we'd need to have safety goggles to do our lab. I thought, "Great! Noel and I just purchased some for when we refinished our tub! I won't have to buy any!". So, I showed up to the first lab wearing my home improvement safety glasses. I was also not expecting to not fit in this way, but I was the only one who had wrap around glasses. Everyone else had purchased cool goggles from the lab store. This became one area where I decided it might be better to just try and fit in.



Saturday, September 26, 2009

Noel's birthday

Noel celebrated his 29th birthday this past week. We enjoyed a great dinner at Beckham Grill and ate carrot cake at home after dinner. Noel has requested carrot cake for his birthday for the past 3 years (or more...I can't remember). He received some really nice gifts, as well as money, which is currently being set aside for future home needs.
He loved all of his gifts, but there was one in particular that was a huge surprise. My parents sent it in the mail and I could hardly wait for Noel to open it since I knew he'd love it so much.

Waiting for him to reveal what was inside.

Look closely, Noel now has a study partner.

His very own, John Calvin bobblehead. So far, I have heard Noel asking, "What do you think, John?". John always says, "yes".



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our dear friends

Our dear friends, Dani and Michelle (who we visited in Hawaii recently) moved back to Pasadena a couple of weeks ago. Dani graduated from Fuller with his MDiv a little over a year ago and Michelle is now continuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology. They are some of the sweetest, most generous people we have ever met and we feel so privileged to call them friends.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, they have a bit of a crisis. I'm not sure that anyone we know can do anything about it, but I thought I might as well put the word out. They shipped their car here from Hawaii. Upon arrival, it was not running well. They took it to a mechanic and put over $800 into it. Not a very nice welcome back to CA for them! The day after they picked it up, it stopped working again. They took it back to the mechanic and found out that there is a lot of oil sludge build up. After much investigation and research, it does appear that the mechanic is being honest. They now have a huge choice to make. Pay $2000 for another engine flush to flush the sludge. However, this is not guaranteed to make the car run. Or, look for a new car. They are in no position to be looking for a car since they just moved and Dani hasn't found a job yet. So, if anyone has any southern California connections to a free or cheap car for them, please let us know! I know it's a shot in the dark. They've just done SO much for us, and I wish we could help them out in their time of need.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm starting to think...

...that working full-time, going to school part-time, being a Community Coordinator, and trying to buy a house all at the same time might not be the greatest idea.

We have lots going on in our lives right now and things will only get busier as Noel goes back to school next week. All are exciting things, but needless to say, updating the blog has not been made a priority as of late.

I started school at Pasadena City College 3 weeks ago. Up until yesterday, it was pretty easy and I was wondering if I was in college or elementary school. Not really....but it was very easy. It's starting to get more difficult and I'm starting to wonder when I'll get all my studying in. But, I REALLY LOVE it! I'm so glad I'm there and can't wait to start classes that will actually be a part of my program. I can't even imagine how much more I will love those! I'm currently taking General, Organic, and Biochemistry (one class) as well as Anatomy and Physiology. I really feel like this is a great fit for me!

As for the house....more on that later. :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fires

The fires are so bad right now and as of this morning, the one near us was only 5 % contained. These pictures were taken by a friend of mine either yesterday or today and I think last night. I haven't ventured out to take any yet. This is the view looking North from the end of our street. I'll try and take some of my own later today and night if there still a good view.
Mount Wilson is being threatened right now, which is where all of the TV antennas are located as well as antennas for the emergency system out here. The firefighters have cleared the area of brush and put lots of fire retardant down, but it still may not be enough.
We're doing fine. The air is a bit smokey, but could be worse. The wind isn't bad and is moving most of the smoke east, which helps us a lot. Pray for an end to these soon! Many people have been evacuated (some are staying within our community) and many of our community members have friends who have been taken to the hospital with respiratory problems. This area hasn't burned in about 60 years, so it's definitely overdue and is a nautral process, but it's still scary for a lot of people.














































Thursday, August 27, 2009

Farewell, John and Amanda!

We bid farewell to our closest friends this past Tuesday. We met John and Amanda while we lived off campus; we were neighbors for about a month before we moved 2 blocks away. But, our friendship continued and developed even after moving. Amanda became my walking buddy and we went to the Rose Bowl to walk 2-3 mornings each week. I'm really going to miss that time! We also took cooking classes together at Hipcooks, and enjoyed having meals together. John and Noel loved to toss the frisbee together as well as talk about music.
John is transferring to a seminary in Toronto and is training to become an Episcopal priest. Since they are both from Alabama, they have never experienced a real winter. They're in for a real treat!

After packing, loading up the truck, and cleaning, we headed to 21 Choices for a late night, last yummy frozen yogurt treat. I'm sure glad it wasn't our last time to 21 Choices!
They stayed the last night at our apartment. Amanda's sister was able to join us for breakfast before John and Amanda headed out of town.
Noel and John are finalizing the packing. Lucky for us, John and Amanda will be driving through Michigan and will drop off the keyboard we borrowed from my grandparents for the past 4 years. It was only supposed to be a 3 year loan since we didn't know we'd be staying here longer than that. We're happy to have a way to return it!
Bye friends! We will really miss you!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Meat or no Meat

I have chosen a vegetarian lifestyle because of my personal conviction that raising mass amounts of meat is not good for the environment, our bodies, the global food crisis, animal rights, and more. I don't consider myself a liberal, a radical, or anything of that sort. I consider myself convicted of being a good steward of the earth. I know that looks different for each person, but my fear is that many of us make decisions out of ignorance. If people are aware about how mass meat consumption is affecting our world and still continue to make the same choices, that is totally fine with me. At least the choice is no longer made due to ignorance.

As large countries try to become "more like America", overall meat consumption is growing at a rate that can not be sustained on our earth.



A friend sent me the link to this Time article, which I encourage everyone to take the time to read: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1917458-1,00.html

Also, our friends, Andrew and Jen, recently posted this information on their blog (I hope they don't mind that I stole it!):


Last week, the Washington Post summarized a number of recent reports indicating that one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint or greenhouse gas pollution is to reduce your meat consumption. Here are some quick highlights:
-A Carnegie Melon study found that the average American would benefit the planet more by being vegetarian one day per week than by switching to a totally local diet (heck, why not do both?).
-A University of Chicago study found that switching to a vegan diet would have a bigger impact than trading your gas guzzler for a Prius.
-The head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recommended that people give up meat one day a week to take pressure off the atmosphere.
-According to a 2006 United Nations report, livestock accounts for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Although we've reported similar studies in Organic Bytes over the years, it's refreshing to see a mainstream media outlet finally bring attention to the topic. Americans seem okay being told they should recycle, drive less, and weatherize their homes, but something short-circuits when you ask them to reduce their meat consumption.
The OCA article
The Washington Post article

These facts are astounding and shouldn't be ignored. What if we all agreed to have just 1 day a week where we didn't eat meat? We could support each other, share recipes, start a movement, etc. I think a lot of people immediately wonder, "what would I eat?". Let me assure you, there are LOTS of good options starting with a very basic like grilled cheese and tomato soup!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hawaii...the best vacation ever!

Noel and I had the most fantastic vacation ever. We went to Hawaii to visit our friends, Dani and Michelle, and to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. Hawaii was the perfect balance of activity and relaxation, natural beauty and tourist stuff, and time with friends and time alone. From the minute we stepped off the plane, Dani and Michelle treated us like royalty. They met us with beautiful leis and had a whole week of fun planned for us.


After briefly stopping at Michelle's mom's house, we headed out to Hanuma Bay to go snorkeling. What a great introduction to Hawaii! We saw TONS of different fish, big and small, as well as 2 large sea turtles. The water was warm, beautiful, and clear. I can't imagine swimming in any other ocean after being here.

Getting ready to head out into the bay.



After snorkeling, we headed out for a short hike. The view at the top was beautiful. We loved how windy it always was. We saw "Rabbit Island" (the island in the background) and enjoyed nearly blowing away.

Hanging out at the North Shore. We enjoyed swimming and relaxing here.
We passed several shrimp farms on our way back from the North Shore. This "truck" serves some incredibly fresh and delicious shrimp. If we weren't with locals, we wouldn't have ever known to stop here. It looks a little strange and questionable. But, it is delicious! This was only one of many things that we were so thankful Dani and Michelle knew about. It was so fun to be more like a local than a tourist.

Buttery, garlicky shrimp.

Noel trying his hand at the ukulele. It's common to see people just walking down the street playing the ukulele. We met up with a few other Fuller friends one night who also live in Hawaii and they gave Noel a brief lesson.

We stopped at the Dole pineapple factory on our way to the North Shore and enjoyed eating some fresh pineapple and pineapple ice cream.


Neither of us knew how pineapple grew until we visited the factory. It was really neat to see! How did you think pineapple grew?



Enjoying some fresh pizza after a day at the beach and hiking.


I loved being in the ocean and exploring all the different beaches. I told Noel I wished I could be a fish and swim all day every day. I also wish I could go body boarding every weekend. It was SO fun! We don't have pictures of it because it was raining that day and we were all in the ocean (no one to take the picture), but it's basically like surfing, but on a smaller board on your stomach. There are always great waves at Bellows Beach and I was fortunate enough to catch several of them!...and get pummeled by a few. :)

Shaved ice is really popular in Hawaii. We went to one of the most famous shaved ice places. You can get either ice cream or azuki beans underneath the ice. I tried the beans and they were delicious! They are really sweet. I'm definitely going to try my hand at cooking them at home. Michelle always teases me saying that I must be part Japanese since I like so many Japanese things.


The four of us outside Michelle's mom's house.

From the top of the Pali lookout, we saw Noel's future place of employment...First Presbyterian Church of Hawaii. Just kidding. :) Though it is fun to think about!

After staying with Dani and Michelle for a couple of nights, we stayed in a hotel in Waikiki for 3 nights. We were on the 36th floor, which had a fantastic view. We loved the Pacific Beach Hotel!

Waikiki is the place to surf. There are people there all day, just hanging out in the ocean, waiting for waves. The water is shallow, which I guess is good for surfing. Also, you can rent a board or pay for a lesson there. Maybe next time we'll try this out!

I think this is called a banyan tree. It's really incredible! It's made up of mostly vines, that grow close together and form a trunk.
The tall building in the back is the part of the hotel we stayed in. There are 37 floors and we were on floor 36. So fun!

Dani and Michelle took us to a local favorite sushi place called Genki. We've seen sushi places with the conveyor belt, but this one was much better.
Unfortunately, Michelle cut her hand pretty badly on a glass just before coming here. She probably should've gotten stitches, but made her own bandage instead.

Noel is deciding which plate to grab. At then end of eating, the server just adds up the total based on how many plates you have and what color they are. Each color is a different price. It's a fun way to be able to try lots of different things for a really good price!

Enjoying some Japanese delights!

We went to a water park one day, which was lots of fun! We raced down some of the slides, screamed a lot on the slides, and had the most gourmet picnic lunch packed by Michelle.

After a long day at the water park, we headed to the beach for the sunset. Noel and Michelle ended up tying in a great game of Scrabble!

We fell in love with this local ice cream place, Bubbies. They are famous for their mochi ice cream, which we indulged in 3 times during our stay. They have more flavors of mochi ice cream than I have ever seen. It was so delicious! I call Bubbies the "21 Choices of Hawaii". We tried chocolate peanut butter, azuki bean, watermelon, strawberry dark chocolate chip, guava, mint chocolate, raspberry, and more! I REALLY want to learn how to make it and have been searching for recipes. I found a few for plain mochi and will have to experiment with getting the flavors into it. I'll wait for Michelle to return to CA to help me with that. She and Dani are moving back in less than a month!

Noel hanging out on the balcony of our hotel.
We had some funny injuries while we were there. The first day, I knocked my knee on the reef while snorkeling and got a bruise. I also got hit by the body board and got another bruise. Then, I hit my head on the inside of a tube slide at the water park. I still have a scab! Finally, the last day, Noel got stung by a bee on his knuckle. His finger is still swollen and he can't get his wedding ring on. We laughed a lot about our "injuries".

When having dinner with our other friends from Fuller, Guy and Lori, Lori told us that her dad worked in Waikiki and would take us out on a canoe for free! This was incredibly fun! We paddled out quite far into the ocean, turned around, and caught huge waves that we rode all the way into shore! It was basically like surfing in a canoe. We were able to go out on 2 separate occasions and caught 3 waves each time. The ride was very thrilling!

We recommend that everyone take a vacation to Oahu at some point in their lives. It was the most incredible place we've ever been and we really hope to be able to return some day.

We are also so excited that Dani and Michelle are moving back to Pasadena in less than a month! Michelle's coming back to Fuller to finish her PhD in psychology after taking a leave of absence. We are so excited to have them around again as they were great friends to us ever since we moved here.