The Things You Learn...

...when Mom & Dad come to town.

1. Toothpaste = cheap caulk for holes in the wall.

2. You can change the direction that your fridge opens!

This was definitely a surprise, and it made me very happy. Now I don't have to walk all the way to the other side of the fridge to open it. ;)

3. When painting a room, you're not supposed to trim/cut in a wall without using a roller to blend right away. If you don't blend, you end up with a line in the paint. 

                 (No pictures. Dad fixed my mistake.)

4. You never stop missing home.


Aunt Jen's Granola

As a kid, granola was just okay to me...I didn't ask specifically for it, but I didn't turn it away either. But now that I'm older, granola is one of the many dishes that my taste buds now approve of (and ask specifically for). The only granola I eat is from my Aunt Jen's recipe. I don't do granola with nuts, berries or any dried fruit, coconut, sesame seeds, etc. Just plain and simple not-super-healthy granola.

Aunt Jen's Granola

1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal (do not use quick)
1/4 cup powdered milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbs. brown sugar
optional: 1/2 cup bran, wheat germ (I use wheat germ in an attempt to make it a tad bit healthier)

Preheat oven to 300. Put oil, honey and vanilla in a flat baking pan with high sides. Melt (usually takes only a minute or two). Mix together in a large bowl: oatmeal, powdered milk, cinnamon and brown sugar. (Add bran, wheat germ, etc.) Pour the warm oil & honey mixture onto the oat mixture and blend well with a spoon. Return to the baking pan. Bake for one hour. Stir mixture every 15 minutes to keep from burning. Cool the mixture in the pan and stir once or twice to facilitate even cooling. Store in an airtight container.

Disclaimer: I usually only bake it for up to thirty minutes. My oven may be wacky because the first time I baked it for the full hour, it definitely burned. 

Enjoy! My favorite way to eat granola is like cereal: add milk & I'm good to go. Also great on yogurt.


Recipes Made Fun

There's something about meal planning that I just hate. I love learning to cook a new dish, but I hate looking for recipes, trying to find sides that go with a main dish, etc. Maybe its because I'm a pickier eater than I like to think and so I'm scared of trying a recipe only to hate it. (Baking, on the other hand, is entirely different-- anything with bread and sugar is good with me.)

I was browsing blogs today, just like any day, and came across a genius idea: They Draw and Cook. Its a compilation of illustrated recipes sent in from all over the world. Here's a few of my favorites (illustrations, not necessarily recipes):

Isn't that a great idea? I'll be much more willing to search for recipes when they're all prettied up for me :)    


A Goodbye Gift

 A few days ago, these poppies popped up outside of our house. Before they bloomed, I'd assumed we had a ton of killer almost-waist-high weeds, and I just didn't see the point in weeding when we were leaving in a week or so. So (thankfully) I left them alone, and one morning as I walked to my car to go to work, I saw the first bright red-orange flower.

Over the next few days, more of them bloomed and made a mini-oasis for me in our front yard :) I've always loved pictures and paintings of poppies because they're so bright and their petals are so paper-thin, and I was very excited to see some close-up. Sadly, we only got to enjoy them for a few days but they certainly spruced up moving day...at least for me. I'm not sure Deric really noticed and/or cared. It was so fun to be surprised by all the different flowers that bloomed in our front yard this spring and it made me sad to leave them behind, especially considering the daffodils hadn't yet bloomed.

But at the same time, we all know how happy I am to be moving, so here's to new houses and new gardens!


The Joys of Moving

Thank you, Command Strips, for ripping a chunk outta the wall, clear down to the drywall. So much for (and I quote from the package) "Damage free hanging solutions". I should sue.


My Mom

She has given me so many wonderful gifts that I am only now starting to fully understand (and won't completely understand until I become a mother,  I'm sure). As we celebrated Mother's Day yesterday and her birthday today (or yesterday, now that its 12:15), I've thought a lot about what a great mother she is to me and my sisters. I clearly remember a time when I was about 8 or 9 years old and Mom wouldn't let me invite myself to go to some bouncy house with my younger sister's friends. I remember declaring to myself, "When I have kids, I will NEVER do this to them!" And as we all later do, we realize why Mom wouldn't let us do this or that, and we're grateful for it. Here's a few more things I'm thankful for, and hope to carry on with my own children one day...

Thanks, Mom...
-for teaching me that its rude to invite yourself ;)
-for surprising us every so often when we'd come home from elementary school to find our rooms sparkling clean and the furniture rearranged...it would make our day!
-for pausing in the middle of painting the kitchen to braid my hair when I couldn't do it myself
-for teaching me how to sew, even though it meant a jammed machine and a frustrated child
-for letting me out of piano lessons after the obligatory "just try it" period was over
-for carting me back and forth to soccer games and listening to the same Dixie Chicks song over and over again
-for letting me have "half-birthday" parties so I could have a pool party in the summer
-for sewing my middle school Homecoming dress
-for hosting events like FCA and Young Life at the house and showing me how fun it is to be hospitable
-for cooking, cleaning, and the numerous other tasks I never noticed
-for never commenting on how awkward I was all through middle school and high school
-for teaching me how to drive well
-for making our home an enjoyable, loving, and safe environment
-for proofreading English papers at 11pm
-for taking me on spontaneous trips to Starbucks, just the two of us, the summer after my freshman year of college and making me feel like a grown-up
-for making 8 hour drives to visit me at college
-for planning a good chunk of my wedding when I was too busy to do it myself
-for continuing to provide advice and support even now as I'm married and 12 hours from home

Mom, I can never thank you enough for all you've done for me, and all that you continue to do. You are so patient, kind, wise, and fun! I love you, Mom!


Fried Fungi

I got home from work the other day and sitting on the kitchen counter was a bowl of what I swore were brains of some sort. They were floating in dirty brown water and I couldn't figure out for the life of me where they'd come from. I asked Deric what they were and he calmly replied, "Morels." I've never heard of morels so I had to ask for a little more information. He told me (and I'm sure all of you know this already) that morels are mushrooms that grow up here in the spring and are apparently pretty tasty.

 A guy at work had given them to Deric so he was going to fry them later for dinner. I went ahead with my plans for dinner 'cause there was no way I was eating mushrooms, especially when they looked like little brains.

Deric's mom came over later than night and ended up helping him fry the morels. (I have to admit, they smelled pretty good-- but then again, anything frying smells good.) They both ate the morels and said they tasted good, especially with ranch, but I couldn't bring myself to try one. I'm sure the taste would be fine, but the texture.. Blech. Guess I missed out, but I'm alright with it. No fungi for me:)


The Wait is Over

After at least a year of searching and searching for a ministry thats a good fit, the wait is finally over! Deric accepted a position as youth minister at a church in Farragut, Tennessee. (Side note: We had our first "date" there: Texas Roadhouse & a movie. I say "date" because we were still pretending we were just friends at that point:)) The entire process with this church took less than a month, which is crazy but fantastic. Everything fell into place throughout the month which encouraged our feeling that this is where we're supposed to be. Its a wonderful church full of the friendliest people we've probably ever met. Its located in a beautiful area of Knoxville close to friends we know from JBC. Deric knows a few of the local youth ministers which will be a great support system for him. Our housing is already worked out and is perfect for us.

The list of blessings goes on and on, and we're both so glad that we waited out this process and didn't settle at another church just to have a job. So was the year of searching worth it? Definitely. But I'm still so, so glad its over :) Now we're on to the fun stuff: packing, putting in our two weeks at work (hallelujah!), planning for the new house, and on Deric's end, rereading all those youth ministry books he has from JBC.

God has been so incredibly good to us throughout the past year, and He continues to provide for us. We certainly don't deserve all these blessings so we're very thankful for each one. A huge thank you goes to all of you who continually prayed for us and encouraged us, and we'd love if you'd continue to do both!

Rocky Top, here we come!