Friday, August 26, 2011

.from the garden: tomato season.

although I haven't posted as much as I'd hope to... we have had an amazing summer of fresh veggies from the garden... and the recipes we've tried have all been a successful adventure.  I promise to post recipes soon.

Yesterday, I made this little yummy lunch with a tomato that a friend of mine gave me from his garden.  I only have cherry and heirloom tomatoes... so Tyler was nice enough to share a bright red, and amazingly tasty tomato.

Sorry this picture isn't that great... I was too hungry to get the camera out, so I took this with photo booth on my computer.
But here is the breakdown... simple and delicious.

1 whole wheat english muffin toasted
1 egg over easy
two slices of tomato (one on each half of the english muffin)
fresh basil torn into small pieces
feta cheese
cracked pepper

SOO easy and quick.  Perfect lunch!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This blog is a my collection of inspiration, memories and passions. My most significant passion is people so I feel this is a great outlet for me to share my gratitude to one of the most influential people in my life.

When I was born in 1985, I was welcomed into a loving and amazing family.  Sadly, my mothers father had passed away when she was a teenager, and my fathers mother had passed away just a couple years before I was born... so I never got to meet my maternal grandfather, or paternal grandmother.  My two living grand parents were both older than some grandparents are, and therefor I didn't grow up with my grandparents being my primary care-givers outside of my parents like some kids do.  Not to say that I don't have amazing memories with my grandfather (who passed away just one year ago this month), and my grandmother (who is 92, and a 3 time cancer survivor)! All of this to say, I didn't have a conventional experience with my grandparents playing a daily role in my life, but instead had an unconventional experience that I would not trade for anything in the world.

My mom is a nut. Like one of those mom's that babysitters dread because she's so neurotic you feel like your going to suffocate. (love you mommy, but you're a little over protective, in the best way possible).  So you can imagine when she was hunting for childcare for her precious first born Kristen, she had the bar set pretty high concerning expectations.  That's when the hospital told her about two retired nurses that were sisters and providing childcare out of their home.  My mom met them, loved them, and the rest is history.

So my childhood consisted of hours after school, summer weekdays, and the occasional overnighter spent with two women that are sincerely my family, regardless of blood relation or not.  Joyce and Sandy Murak were the most wonderful second mom's a girl could ever ask for and I feel I am a more dynamic person because of the wonderful investment these two women made in my life.

5 years ago, we lost Sandy.  It was the hardest thing I had ever gone through, and I still am not sure I've come to grips with the effects her death has had on my life.  Just days prior to her death, I had the opportunity to lead Sandy to Christ.  Although she was a woman that lived morally and sound, she wavered and resisted her faith at times.  Right before she passed away, in a quiet moment, we prayed and although she wasn't able to speak too much, she asked Jesus into her heart.  and he took her home to Him just a couple days later.

Joyce is a woman of faith... always has been.  She's taught me more about being a good person and two wrongs not making a right just by the way she has lived and loved others.  Although I have so much of Sandy's sassy attitude and ability to woo and persuade (or manipulate), I like to think that I got a little bit of Joyce's tender heart, although Kristen got much more of it :) (i guess the older siblings always have to look out for the little one's, right sissy?)

Joyce has spent her life taking care of others.  Literally, every single day putting her own needs aside and serving others.  She is so Christ-like.  She grew up as the oldest sibling, looking after Sandy and their younger brother Gene.  She helped her mom a lot around the house, and with the family... and later she became a nurse where she was helping so many people every day with her care and warm spirit.  She took care of her mother, her cousin, and eventually Sandy when all three were in their dying days.  She took care of several children, myself and Kristen included.  She is generous and strong, never complains or asks for recognition (she will actually probably tell me that this blog was too much, and I didn't need to do it)... she is kind, warm, and just one of those people that makes you feel better just by being around her.  She gives the best hugs, and makes the BEST macaroni and cheese (sorry mom).  She is a gift from God and she has changed my life.

Neither she nor Sandy ever got married or had children, but as far as I'm concerned... Kristen and I (and Jeremy, one of the other boys that I grew up with) are her children.  She earned the right to call us her kids with all the late nights she came to my house to give me medicine that my mom couldn't bring herself to administer, or all the days she sat in the hot car waiting for me to stop socializing after school, and all of the wounds she bandaged up, and the tears she dried, and the fights between sis and I that she broke up.  She earned it by combing lice out of my hair (yes, I had lice in 5th grade), or dealing with my entitled little attitude that made me stubborn from time to time.  She earned it by coming to every dance recital, birthday party, and Christmas.  She is my second mom... and I cannot begin to find words to express how lucky I feel to have a Joyce.  Not everyone gets one... but I do!

I don't know how to say thank you to her.  As I'm writing this tears are strolling down my face and I'm finding more and more and more memories coming to my mind that solidify her significance in my life... i feel like I could write all day and still not be able to say thank you.  You see, my mom and dad get a lot of glory (as they should, they're awesome), but Joyce and Sandy quietly stood back and poured themselves out every day to make sure I was cared for, and fed, and happy... and they never asked for anything in return.  It's beautiful that people can love someone so much that they treat them better than themselves.  That is what Jesus would do, and my Joyce did that every day for me.  I have so many memories... my childhood is full of memories at their house.  Making crafts, painting, playing with play-do outside... eating hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese (always out of my special green bowl), and bread and butter. Curling up on the couch in a blanket, even in the summer because I was always cold and Joyce was always hot.  Calling her to come pick me up from school when I was sick because there was no where I wanted to be more than at her house when I didn't feel good.  I was so comforted there.  I remember her being at every dance recital, always bringing us flowers and spoiling Kristen and I with presents.  And speaking of presents, Christmas' for me were amazing... we had a big Christmas with mom and dad, but we also got to have one with Joyce and Sandy and they always seemed to get us the perfect gift (right Kristen, remember when you went ballistic over the barbie motorhome).  I loved watching movies at their house, and Saved by the Bell and 90210 of course... I loved begging mom to stay for a half hour when she would come pick us up so we could finish the show... I loved long talks with Joyce as I got older and needed advice about friends and boys and all the things that come along with growing up.  I loved my unconventional experience of having Joyce and Sandy be a part of our family... although most don't get it, even when I try to explain it... I don't care, because my life is so full from knowing them and loving them.

Joyce: (I know you're reading this so I really really want you to focus on this part specifically and don't get mad at me for bragging about you!!)
YOU are an incredible woman.  You're strong, courageous, loyal, hard working, and selfless.  You're witty and intelligent... you're faithful and honest... you're so Christ-like.  You have instilled a value for truth, selflessness, and humility in my heart.  You have taught me what it looks like to ALWAYS put others before yourself.  You have modeled real love to me over and over and over.  thank you for this.

I love being your little one, you're baby.  I know the other kids could tell that I was your favorite... and I'm glad they were jealous! ha! :) I'm sure I was just so cute you couldn't resist me, or get mad at me for too long!  :) You have always spoiled me, and made me feel like the most special person in the world... part of the reason I have confidence is because you always made me feel like I was worth something.

I know you're lonely now that Sandy is gone.  I know that you're fighting your health, and it's discouraging. I know you're tired.  But I want you to know what a huge impact you've made on this world and on me.  You may not get to travel to far away places and influence hundreds of people... but you've influenced me so deeply and I promise you that any opportunity God gives me to share truth and love with others, I'll take it and I'll give you some credit for helping me become the woman I am.  You have left, and will continue to leave such an impact on this world because you intentionally invested in the people that God put into your life, and those people may just get the chance to move mountains, by God's grace.
I want you to know that I'm going to try my best to move mountains for you.  Because the world deserves to get a glimpse of your love and how unwavering and unselfish it is.

I love you so much Joycee.  I know it seems over the top to share all of this on my blog, but I needed more people than just our family to hear about you, read about you, and hopefully be moved by the profound impact that you leave just by being you.
Thank you so much for the incredible investment you've put into my life... I will never be able to repay you or communicate my sincere gratitude.
I trust that God is going to bless you and take care of you as he always has.  I am praying, and fighting for you. I love you so much and will see you very soon... I need a Joycee hug!

all my love.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

.for mom and dad.

 When did I grow up? oh wait, I'm not sure I have.  I just cannot believe that I am 26 years old today... I still feel like a 16 year old girl most of the time! (and probably act like one all too often.) But if being 26 means being married to the most wonderful man I've ever met, having a house that feels like my home, being the mom to the sweetest little dog in the whole world, having an amazing job and and even more amazing community that I get to be a part of, having a family that has always loved me and supported me, as well as a new family that continues to show their love and grace to me, having the hands down BEST friends a girl could ever ask for, and having the opportunity to have traveled the world already with more trips on the horizon... well, then I WELCOME 26, and am infinitely thankful for all the blessings God has given me. My cup overflows.
Considering it is my day of birth, it only seemed appropriate to give a shout out to the two people who made my life possible, and have filled it with joy, encouragement, love, challenges, lessons, truth, faith and so much more. So this is my attempt to begin to say thank you to my parents for the immeasurable influence and impact they've had on my life.

DAD: Thank you for always being a man to be admired.  You're integrity, loyalty, and strong character have never wavered, and it is because of this that I have always known you love me, support me, and would go to bat for me without hesitation.  It is because of who you are that I ended up marrying a wonderful man...because not just anyone could live up to the high standards that you set.  When I look back on the past 26 years, I have so many beautiful memories that you created:  Orange juice in a champagne glass and you serving me with a french accent, flying with my belly resting on your knees as we rough housed in the basement, initial shaped pancakes as we camped all summer, knives and snake bites (which I still don't love), 'word my brother', sitting on your lap when I'm feeling tired of sad (still do this), teasing mom and laughing as you would try to grab her neck and she would make that ridiculous screeching noise, dancing like a little free spirited hippy as you would play stairway to heaven, having you give ALL my boyfriends a hard time (they deserved it), you praying with me right before I got married, walking down the aisle with you... and this is just a glimpse of the moments that come to mind.  I love what you've instilled in me... hard work ethic, a love for music, perfectionism, and a little bit of my endearing temper :)  You are the best dad I could ever ask for. and I love you so deeply.  Thank you for your investment in my life and who I am today... I know you will continue to shape me and I grow older.

MOM: You are the strongest woman I have ever met.  You have experienced things in life that I could never even imagine (probably because you protected me so well), and yet you've come out of every touch circumstance stronger, wiser, and more Christ-like than you were before.  You have been the single most influential person in my entire life, and words will never express how grateful I am to you.  The relationship we have is far beyond my ability to communicate, and it is one of the greatest blessings in my life.  You are a woman of beautiful, courageous character and I cannot begin to count the ways you have shaped me into who I am.  My life is full of memories of your love and care: tucking my in every night and singing my song, NHK CHK, making me scrambled eggs and toast when nothing else sounded good, dolling me up for dance recitals, driving me from hear to there and everywhere, being a PTA mom, going to camp with me, days at the beach in Silver Lake, shopping with me for everything from easter dresses, to prom dresses, to my wedding dress, our long late night talks...even once I went to college and would be so homesick, taking care of me on nights when I came home late :), kentucky, listening to every painful story of my broken heart from boys, our last night at home before I got married as we laid in my bed and cried... these are just a handful because just about every happy memory of the last 26 years includes you... and that is evidence of how much you mean to me.
Thank you for being you. For teaching me how to balance a million things and not less stress consume me, for teaching me to laugh at myself and not take life too seriously, for teaching me the importance of empathy for others... Thank you for always supporting me, loving me, forgiving me... thank you a million times over for truly building me into the woman I am.  Thank you for teaching me how to love God and love others and for setting the best example of that I've ever seen.  You are an incredible woman and I pray I can be half as impressive as you.  I know you will continue to mold me and invest in me as I grow older and become a mother myself.  I praise God daily for helping you survive cancer and other obstacles that life has given you... because I do not know what I would do without you. I love you!

I also have an amazingly wonderful sister who has invested so much into me... BUT, I will brag about her on HER birthday, (the BIG 3- 0 this year)!!!

So cheers to 26! a post coming soon on all the wonderful birthday festivities my husband has showered me with! :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

.oh happy day.

I've been hesitant to share this with you... but i have a new blog obsession: oh happy day.  My hesitancy comes from the fact that when you find something so good you instinctively want to hoard it for yourself (selfish, i know) ... then I remembered, this isn't called the WORLD WIDE WEB for no reason... and I'm probably years behind on my love for oh happy day.

this is jordan. the genius behind oh happy day.
so without further ado, go check out my latest blog love.  and by the way... EVERY SINGLE picture of her san fran apartment is saved in my home inspiration folder on my desktop.  I'm just really in love with her taste.  i'm thinking about moving into her apartment while she lives in Paris for the year! :)

her gorgeous bedroom. 
i am in love with her living room. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

.cheers to summer.

us at dinner with friends last sunday. more to come on that soon.

Hip Hip Happy Friday friends!
Casper and I are so happy to not be traveling tonight, as our wedding is in Indiana tomorrow :) So we actually get to hang out with our Marion friends tonight.  We'll be going to a cookout and playing games.  Perfect.

I hope to make this tasty dessert to bring along with me.

As well as something zucchini or squash inspired because of the miracle garden in my backyard. (a post coming soon on our first season with a vegetable garden, stay tuned.) look what I harvested yesterday... and I'm sure there are just as many out there today.

So, hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with good food, friends, and fun. I just love summer!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

.a bit behind the band wagon.

i know i'm a bit behind the band wagon... but i'm jumping on, heads first.
what am i diving into you ask?  pinterest.

have you heard of it? i'm obsessed. how have i missed this amazingly perfect website?! it's the best thing since facebook. hands down. i'm literally addicted.

you have to get invited. but once you do, it's a dream land of inspiration.  you can create your own inspiration boards in various categories and then when you see things on the internet while surfing blogs or favorite sites... you just 'pin it' with a simple little button that you add to your bookmark bar.  you can also follow your friends, and their boards, and get/share inspiration with each other.  perfection.

i'm going to have to set boundaries for myself on how much "pinteresting" i'm allowed to do. because this could get crazy. (correction, i could get crazy).

so, go to Pinterest now and check it out folks!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

.dusting off the cob webs.

man oh man.  how i've missed the little world i had created for myself by way of this blog.  i'm not sure that anyone is more disappointed than i about the fact that there has not been a single post to be had, to be read, to be shared since march.  maybe i'm the only one who is disappointed...but regardless, i am back.

the last several months have been filled with a lot of water treading. we've been busy. good busy. lot's of exciting things to share. but day to day life has been a heavier priority than taking the time to stop and recap all that is going on.  i just thought there was no time to share stories, photos and inspiration since i was too busy.  gotta set priorities in life.

then yesterday, i went on a blog binge. and when i say this, i mean i consumed hundreds of blogs, linking from page to page, just inhaling as much as possible.  i am literally filled to the brim with new inspiration and passion.  it occurred to me yesterday as i read other blogs by women who are much much busier than i, that blogging is never the most convenient thing, and it always will take time and effort, but if i am passionate about sharing with others, and keeping a record/collection of people, places, and things i love...then i need to MAKE this a priority.  i'm not going to wake up one day less busy and have all the time in the world to type my heart away on this blog.  if i did wake up one day with all that time, i bet i wouldn't have much going on in life to even share on this blog.  touche!

so, like i said: i'm back. new passion, new commitment, new ideas.

HOORAY! stay tuned.