Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting excited about moving.

Well, my roommates are slowly packing up their things tonight. It's been nice to sit and unwind after a long day of jury selection (but no jury duty) and preparing to wraps things at work this week. My last day with TWLOHA is this Thursday, and it's bittersweet. In so many ways, it's an end and a beginning of a long-standing chapter in my life. And it's sort of thrilling. (So thrilling, in fact, that I'm planning on getting a massage this Friday to reward myself!) :)

I officially accepted the offer from FSU today, so I'm moving up there in a couple weeks for grad school. I'm gearing up for a couple months of furniture shopping, washer & dryer shopping, bed shopping, etc. It's time to begin putting together a house of my own! Put some bigger purchases on credit cards, and settle down into styles I like and what makes my house feel like home. Moving on to grad school feels like a bit of an awakening, in many ways. Studying social work at the master's level has been a dream of mine for nearly five years now, and it's odd that I'm finally in a place to embark on this new educational journey. In addition, I feel so grounded and ready to dig into a curriculum that I love, largely due to my personal and professional experiences I've had these past two or three years.

On a complete side note (sort of), tonight I promised myself I would make these as soon as I establish my new crafting space in my apartment.

Really simple crafts that can be completed in under an hour. Taking the time to accomplish fun things will probably help me feel normal in a season of transition. 

What about you -- Do you have any crafty goals for yourself this month? Anyone else embarking on a new journey this summer? 

Goodnight, my friends. Tomorrow I get to go on a site visit in Lakeland... which means Jess and I will get to snag some Rita's frozen custard while we're there. Yesssssss. 


Saturday, June 25, 2011

A little look at lately.

I've been taking the time to be still lately. It's been incredible.

There are times when I like to be extra aware of what's happening around me. I've learned, over and over again, that when I'm hyper-attentive to detail, and making the extra effort to be observant, I am able to appreciate life in the midst of transition, hardship, sorrow or even abundance.

So this week I've been taking time to enjoy the simple stuff. With the change in seasons and the arrival of summer comes an impending change of locations for me as I gear up for grad school. It's been nice to be extra intentional in loving my little cozy, costal town. (But, more about my city in a post to come!) In fact, this entire month has also been a celebration of friendship and the deep love I have for the people in my life, and spending quality time with them.

So, here's a look at lately:

I was really enjoying my bangs this evening. Straight bangs have been a favorite thing of mine this month. Taking the time to get my hair cut is important because it's one of the small ways I tell myself that I'm important and need to be tended to.

An Ossorio iced coffee gift for my sweet friend/assistant Nichole. She and I love to sip caramel coffees and catch up first thing in the office every morning. Since I'm leaving my job this week and she's taking a bit of time off this summer, I wanted to be sure we had one last icy treat together. <3

My friends and I started a "Stitch & I Can't Say" group by accident in the past two weeks, and it's been nothing short of amazing. We like to get together, put in a terrible old 90's chick flick movie and halfway pay attention to it while we make snarky comments and work on our respective crochet projects. We also love watching So You Think You Can Dance and crocheting too, but I'm usually too enthralled by the dancing to do any work on my blanket. The group got its name from Emmi's little sister who wasn't allowed to say "Stitch n' Bitch" when the two of them were younger. haha! We get a kick out of it. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll have noticed that I've been crocheting up a dang storm lately.

See? The new blanket I've been working on. I've enjoyed (for the most part) the new challenge in learning a different pattern than my last blanket. I can't wait to finish it!

Glamour shots of my friend Katie's stuffed bear.

The blurry little instax mini of my family I always carry with me in my clutch.

Buying a fudgecicle from a sketchy ice cream man in Holly's neighborhood. 

Chick-fil-A breakfast date with some girlfranz.

Some of my current Flickr favorites

Matilda taking a snooze on the foot of my bed.

And, this hilarious photo Harbor texted me from tour. I don't even know that guy, but I had to post this photo. I laughed so hard when I got it.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Josh Garrels on repeat.

I've been listening to the new Josh Garrels at work all day long. If you've never heard of him, I thought I'd share his new video with you from his recently-released album, Love & War & The Sea In Between. The song is called "White Owl" and it's best listened to with all the lights off. 

That's all. :) 


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Today has already felt so summery...

Listened to the new Bon Iver album because it's so gorgeous and dreamy. Makes me want to drive around just before sunset with my windows down, and then sneak away to the beach at night.

Wore a dress and encouraged other people to follow suit.

Ate slices of watermelon and honeydew. Dreamed about iced coffees and icy apple limeades from Sonic.

Wore honey & lemon perfume.

Compiled a list of movies I need to watch before fall comes.

What did you do to celebrate your first day of summer? 


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day, dad.

I think that photo really captures my great dad. There's something so fun and earnest about him, and I really like how excited he gets watching his kids do what they love. This is a photo from my little sister's high school graduation over a year ago, and you can tell he's so proud to be sitting in that auditorium cheering her on. 

My dad has always encouraged us to try hard at everything we do, and is really patient. After dating some not-so-great guys throughout high school, I remember sitting myself down and writing down a list of qualities I needed to be looking for in guys. Patience was way up on that list, and I know that I learned that from both of my parents, but especially my dad. He's persistent, honest, able to say that he's sorry and mean it. He works really hard to make sure we feel important and loved, and he prays for me every single day. I mean, he's only a few weeks out of surgery and he's already calling me to ask if he can drive down to Florida and help me move into my new apartment in a few weeks. And that's just the kind guy he is. Growing up, I may have not always respected him the way that I should have, but as I've grown older I began to understand the depth of his love for me. And it's really endless.

(I know you keep up with my blog, so I wanted to do a special post just for you! I love you.)

I hope you guys were able to celebrate your dads today too. And if you couldn't, because your dad isn't here anymore, or your dad maybe wasn't around like he should have been, I'm really sorry and I hope you felt loved today too. 


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Authentic Indian chai.

Ok, here we go. I hope you're ready for this, because it's one of my favorite things on earth, and you'll amaze yourself when you drink a cup. You'll think, "How could I have made this chai myself, because it's seriously awesome!" I swear, you'll think it right inside your head.

All you need is:

- whole milk
- water
- loose leaf black tea
- cardamom seeds
cinnamon / cinnamon sticks
- cloves
- sugar (I prefer raw/organic, but you can also use good old fashioned bleached sugar, or stevia, or splenda or honey, etc.)
- awesome mugs
- metal pot
- mesh strainer

optional additives:
- cloves (not everyone likes them, but I highly recommend them)
- anise seed
- vanilla extract
- nutmeg
- etc.

The trick to making your chai is learning how you like it. It's a super simple drink that's entirely customizable, so if you make it this way and want to change it up a bit, please leave me a comment letting me know how it went.

How you do it:

The preparation –

Gather ingredients. Make a small slit to extract cardamom seeds. Break up cloves. Measure out sugar and cinnamon, and other spices of your choosing. In this recipe I'm using black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, anise and raw sugar. (Most of my ingredients are gifts from India!)

Step 1

Fill a pot with equal parts whole milk and water. The trick to making the right amount of chai is using your coffee mugs or chai cups as your liquid measure. (If you're using smaller traditional chai cups, be sure to anticipate how many cups you'll want to drink! You want to make enough for seconds.) I like making my chai a bit more creamy, so I aim for three parts milk to two parts water. Thus, I dump three coffee mugs of milk into the pot, followed by two mugs of cold water. And I use this amount when serving a party four guests, one mug a piece. Turn your stove on at a medium heat, but keep an eye on your milk. You don't want it to reach boiling.

Step 2

Drop in all the Indian spicy goodness you've prepped. Throw in every part of the spice. You want them to simmer for as long as possible, so it's a good idea to turn your heat down a bit lower once you've added your spices.

Step 3

Slowly heat the milk to nearly a boil, stirring often. I stir my milk the entire time to prevent my milk from burning on the bottom of the pan. You do not want the milk to ever boil, but it needs to get to the point where it's practically there. Just simmering, with the heat visibly rising off the surface. You'll smell a wonderful aroma of spices at this point. It's time to add your tea!

Add 1 - 2 tablespoons of tea per cup of chai. In this photo, I used roughly 7 - 9 scoops, because I started out with 4 - 5 cups of liquid. 

Stir and let steep. Watch the color of the tea begin to change until it's a warm light brown, or the color of a graham cracker. When my friend Charlene taught me, she said that you can add less tea and wait longer for it to steep, or speed up the process by dumping a ton of tea and watching it turn more quickly. Either way, patience and a careful eye help. Add your sugar at the very end, one tablespoon per cup/mug of liquid.

Step 4

Strain and pour! I like to use a large metal strainer and a pitcher, so I can transfer all the chai in something I can pour more easily. Plus, it's important to get all of the tea of your drink when it's done so it doesn't sit for too long and become bitter.

Add another teaspoon of sugar to each cup, if additional sweetness is preferred. After appropriately sugaring each guest's mug, pour the chai on top and stir. Top with cinnamon.

Step 5

You're ready for a chai party! Serve alongside ginger, cinnamon or chocolate cookies, or any other treat of your liking. Savory treats are great with chai too.

Tonight I enjoyed my chai with an insanely good West Indian channa wrap that I whipped up when I got home and let cook down while I was making my chai with Katie. Get the recipe here. It was super flavorful and super easy. I highly recommend it.

And that's it! Once you've done it a few times, you'll get the hang of it and feel confident in altering your recipe to your liking. Charlene says that sometimes she just heats the milk and adds a ton of anise seed as the milk warms. After it gets hot enough, she adds the tea and sugar like normal, but the result is a really sweet, black licorice version. Mmm. Tonight was the first time I added anise, in addition to my standard ingredients, and it was awesome.

Go at it! Enjoy your chai today.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friends and treats all day long.

First thing's first. I have an announcement: Tomorrow I will be making my chai and do my best to post the recipe before I go to sleep. (That means that if you live in Brevard and want to drink delicious chai with me tomorrow after work, let me know!) I had a request from one of my friends to hurry up and post the recipe, so I'd better hop to it!

And now, a look at today.

I wanted to show you some of the really fun things that happened to me today. And, let me preface this by telling you that my kitty is curled up on my lap as I type, which is just icing on the cake in my book.

Like I mentioned last night, I really did paint my little stump nails. I took this photo to track my progress. Sometimes I like to remind myself of my humble beginnings in the nail growing world so I can feel extra accomplished when I reach the long nail phase. 

Oh, and did you notice my little bicycle necklace? My sweet friend Mary Anne sent it to me as a way of saying thank you for helping her figure out the world of analog vs. digital photography. (I was shocked to get a gift and heartfelt note in return for my amateur photo advice.) She said she walked into her fave little boutique where she lives, spotted it, and thought of me right away. It's gorgeous and the detail is really surprising. Thank you again, MA! I love it!

I managed to use my amazing Instax Mini 50s to snap a self-timer photo of my friends and I at our "Redberry Lunch" outing. Redberry Frozen Yogurt is Brevard County's ripoff of Yogurtland, while also simultaneously ripping off Pinkberry's branding and ambiance. But hey, I don't complain! I am an overly loyal customer, and sometimes the girls on staff and I like to take the long drive over to Viera to eat frozen yogurt as our lunch. Nutritious, right? It's one of my favorite things. I've reached the point where the store owner knows my favorite flavors – taro, lychee and avocado, if you were wondering – and the cashiers notice when I get a haircut. It's practically my second home. 

Today I enjoyed a mix of lychee + young coconut frozen yogurt, topped with peach-flavored boba/jellies, mochi, fruity pebbles, bananas and graham cracker crumbles. I know it sounds like a lot goin' on, but I am fairly particular about eating the best looking/tasting food in the world, and trust me, it was awesome.

The work day went pretty smoothly, and then I had counseling up in Orlando after work, so I stole away my assistant/coworker/awesome friend Nichole to go with me so we could get boba teas from Lollicup afterward. She was my faithful companion on the drive up and back. I love sharing stories and having good heart-to-hearts with her. It's just good to touch base with the friends we trust and love. Keeps us in check and it's one of the best ways we can care for ourselves, I think.

We both loved our boba treats. I got a taro milk tea, and she got a frozen hazelnut slushie with boba. We even ventured down the street a bit further, into the area affectionally known as Little Vietnam, and found all sorts of goodies at a local supermarket. Boba pearls! Pad thai base and peanut satay sauce! Lychee and coconut jellies! I snagged all that good stuff, plus a little keychain of a bell that looks like a bird for only 12 bucks. I love that market. 

Well... Matilda is grooming my arm hair so it must mean she's gotten my arm mixed up for her leg. Time to put the sleepy kitty girl to bed and hit the hay myself. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A list for today.

Today I:

- Had a dinner date with my new friend Emmi. We cooked rice and beans and made up some huevos rancheros to plop on top. Fresh spinach and warm tortillas made the meal complete, and I was super stuffed. 

- Received the cutest little golden bicycle necklace in the mail from Mary Anne! I'll take a picture wearing it tomorrow to post. It's really adorable. And, speaking of adorable, I'm a huge fan of her blog. She's a former intern of ours, and a really wonderful girl who's "dabbling in fashion blogging," as she puts it. I think she's doing a really good job, and I love her cute outfits and great attitude. Go check her out.

- Got a postcard from mom & dad! My dad underwent brain surgery last month, so getting a little present from their hospital in the mail made me smile because he's doing so well already! Mom says he's practially back to normal. I tucked my little postcard into my mirror so I can continue to pray for him as he recovers and thank God for how amazing our bodies are at getting better sometimes. :)

- Put in my two weeks at work. It was scary, but it's official. I'm moving on and heading back to school to continue to pursue my educational and professional goals. Back to the books.

So, now I'm:

- Painting my nails. Having mint candy apple withdrawals, so I figure it's time to remind my nails how happy they are when they're long and healthy. Plus, I think the last time I wore this color I was in Haiti. It'll be nice to remember all my sweet Haitian friends whenever the color catches my eye. 

- Catching up on So You Think You Can Dance. I love this show. I miss dancing. 

- Art journaling and dreaming about some of the "next step" decisions I need to make. Had some seriously amazing conversations with one of the schools I'm considering earlier this week, and it's looking really positive. I'll keep you posted when I make my decision. 

- Listening to my roommates' sweet packing playlist. Vampire Weekend, Flaming Lips, The National, and other gems coming from my living room. Soon Allie and Skyler will be moving to Tampa, so I'm trying to enjoy my favorite things about them while they're still here with me. 

What'd you do today? 


p.s. I wanted to share this with you! A photo from my reunion in North Carolina of some dear friends who participated in the discipleship program alongside me four years ago. Now, there are new additions with new spouses, new babies, and new places in life, but there's still so much love. <3

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How to throw the most legit Indian chai party around!

Hey guys!

I am back from my long weekend in North Carolina. And boy, was it refreshing. Three full days of people I love and trust more than anything. Sometimes I forget how privileged I am to have various communities of people around the globe who care for and love me in the way they do. These deep friendships and relationships are borne out of effort, intentionality and love that spans across states and grows stronger with time. This weekend I was reminded of the blessing that the community up in Boiling Springs is to me. It's just a really special place and a gift to my heart.

Anyway, all sentimental stuff aside... I wanted to drop in to share some photos from the chai party we had Sunday afternoon after church! In my last post, I mentioned my friend Charlene and that she was a mentor of mine years ago, before she and her husband Grant moved to India to work as missionaries. Before she left, she taught me how to make chicken curry and a simple and delicious chai recipe that I've used ever since whenever I'm craving something subtly sweet and full of Indian spice. I promise to share a tutorial on how to make the perfect cup of chai later this week (once I get a chance to visit the grocery store again!) but, until then, here are some cute photos from our get-together.

We made three or four pots full of the delicious chai. I thought it would be way too much, but it was such a hit that we had to constantly refill our friends mugs with tea, sugar and cinnamon. 

The cutest little set of chai cups, borrowed from a friend for the party. Whenever I get to visit India, it's a top priority of mine to find the perfect chai set for myself. I just loved the burnt orange and teal in this set. And I love the aesthetic with the hand-painted lines. Just so great!

Here are our American snacks: buttery pretzels, dark chocolates, peanuts, chocolate raspberry cookies, orange cranberry oatmeal cookies, and butter shortbread cookies. I couldn't stop dunking the chocolate cookies into my tea. Heavenly. 

Some of the guys gathered together outside, so the ladies enjoyed the air conditioning and catching up around the dinner table. (I mean, I was within arms length of the chai, so it was perfect for me!)

Charlene and I, with some fresh cardamom and Indian black tea. I'm almost fully restocked and ready to throw a party of my own now. <3 I love this woman so much! 

I'd love to go visit Grant and Charlene in India before I turn 27, so my time is ticking away... I have a little over two years to make it happen. Anyone else have a burning desire to visit India? Have you ever had authentic Indian chai? I'll be back later this week with that chai tutorial.