Friday, May 27, 2011

It's JUST a car.

Dear Hyundai Elantra,

I'm not usually like this with things. In fact, I wrote this post on my awesome XANGA (bet you haven't heard that term in a while!) page in August of 2006.

I murdered my plant last week. This guy held on for so long. I bought him last year about this time on a trip to the giant Ikea in Frisco. There were two of them then. The one in the white vase passed earlier this spring. I hadn't realized how much I enjoyed their green presence until I returned to find the last one browning on Friday. I was off soaking it up in Florida while he died in my hot apartment.

Good thing I am not nostalgic and do not name things like my plant, car, or house. There is nothing quite as ridiculous as someone leaning into the steering wheel and saying "Come on Talulah,or Tiger, or Jamie." It's steel on wheels. Let it go.

I have to be this way to make the passing of the plant easier. I cry at Hallmark commercials and movie previews, therefore I cannot "overly-feel" my own life. Maybe it's my German heritage (not a scapegoat for everything, I promise), or maybe I am the world's only romantic-realist. Can you be both? Guess so...

And yet, last night I couldn't help but ask for a photo with said steering wheel before we pulled away from the car dealership. I don't even think I felt this much emotion leaving my apartment on the day after graduation. It's just that this car has been with me through SO much.

This little box on wheels carried me from Texas to Arizona in November of 2006. It saw me drop my parents off at the airport and then crumple to tears as I pulled out into an unknown city. This silver chariot has carted me to work,girl's night, parties, dates, showers, rehearsals, concerts, sporting events, weddings and funerals. It knows what songs I sing at the top of my lungs and how I don't really know the words to those songs.

It's been through a two accidents, several video shoots, and two replaced windshields.

This car has seen my entire love story with my husband. I leaned against it as I waved good-bye each night and drove 50 miles across town. It's been privy to conversations with everyone important in my life on just about every topic. This automobile has seen me at my worst and best.

The replacement arrives after work today. This new one is to be my car for the next chunk of life. I think we're both in for a wild ride.

Although I never named it, I'm still going to miss it. I'm still going to miss her. That's all.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just Another Day At The Office

I work at a camp.

Naturally, this is a busy time of year for us, seeing as how campers show up in LESS THAN ONE WEEK.

To help us run camp during the summer, about 1,200 summer staff are hired every year. And for two days, all of them (and all of us full-time staff) are packed into a giant auditorium for worship, training, and vision-casting for the summer. It's one of my most favorite times of the year.

The atmosphere in that room is extremely difficult to describe, but it's definitely energizing to say the least. I hope you can make it to my town one of these Mays to come experience it with me. It's amazing.

Here's a little taste of the staff getting revved up between sessions:

A big part of why we are all gathered in this auditorium is to go through our in-house training manual, lovingly known as The Way. As in, our "way" of doing things. (Hip hip, THE WAY!)

To kick off this training time, and to get the new folks excited about what was to come, something truly awesome needed to happen. Watch and see:

And if you think I would pass up the chance to participate in ANYTHING "Newsies"-inspired, well, you are sorely mistaken, friend. Look again, and you might notice a certain blonde in a freakishly bright yellow t-shirt paired with her camp-regulation khaki shorts.

It's a fine life!

...So how was YOUR day at work?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Life and Recipes

I just spent 10 minutes searching the interwebs for a quote that would summarize this casserole of a post I'm about to serve you. But alas, everything was too poetic and far too full of itself. I was looking for something about pulling everything out of your pantry and turning it into a recipe. (I did this once, while living in Oxford. My friends lived to tell the tale of chicken with nutmeg, grape jelly, and mustard.) Anyways. This month...

-We celebrated Mother's Day with D's family.

Per usual we cooked too much, ate too much... and then ate dessert. It was lovely.

-We took a turn at parenting. Ok. We babysat for a few hours.

Puzzles, juice, diapers, pizza, wrestling, the Backyardigans... there wasn't ton of sitting but there was plenty of fun. D was in his element.

-We made my mom's recipe for Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries last week. Both were so tasty that I've decided to share the recipes with you.

Turkey Spinach Burgers
1 lb. ground lean turkey
1 pkg. (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water squeezed out. (I subbed in fresh.)
2 T, barbecue sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. chopped onion
1. Heat grill to medium-high and coat rack w/ cooking spray. (We cooked on our panini maker.)
2. Combine turkey, spinach, barbecue sauce, salt, pepper and onion in large bowl. Shape into four patties.

3. Grill patties 10-12 minutes, turning once, or until meat thermometer inserted into the middle from the side registers 165 degrees. Serve on buns w/ tomato & lettuce. (We chose to serve with more BBQ sauce, mozzarella, and tomatoes.)

Roasted Sweet 'taters
16 oz. sweet potatoes - washed
1 tsp. Olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt - coarse kosher is best
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. pepper - coarse ground

-Preheat oven to 425.
-Cut sweet potatoes into about 3/4 inch cubes (large dice). Leave the skins on removing only the hard knob at each end. Alternatively you might cut them in wedges or slice them in 1/2 inch discs.
-Combine sweet potatoes and remaining ingredients in a bowl (or plastic bag). Toss gently to coat. Place potatoes on a baking sheet (do not overlap); bake at 425 for 25 minutes or until very tender.

-I'm obsessed with a new podcast: WNYC Radiolab. It's a fabulous mixture of science, math, physics, literature, and everything else. I feel really intelligent listening to it at the gym. Don't ask me about what I've learned. All the magic will be gone when I say things like, "So there's this switch in our brain that flicks on and scientists can see it in an EKG or um... in a brain scan, I guess and anyways..." Just listen to the experts (not me) and feed your brain.

-I watched Adele's music video for "Someone Like You" and didn't breathe the entire song. (Or maybe just once.)

-I'm going home in ONE MONTH! It's big doings: Dad = retiring. Grandparents = 60th Anniversary. Father's Day = Mother's Day. (We are celebrating Mom and Dad on the 19th. We have lots of surprises in store.)

-Next month I'm going to the Grand Canyon for the FIRST TIME EVER. I've been in Arizona for five and a half years. I KNOW!!

-I need to go and make my dinner. I don't think I'm going to use a recipe. You are welcome to join.

P.S. posting photos through blogger is exhausting. I had more but it's not worth it. Anyone with me?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Longest Story About Cereal You Will Read Today, Guaranteed

When I was in England for a semester during my sophomore year in college, I was not the most adventurous grocery shopper. My roommates bought flavored yogurts and mysterious-looking pasties without trepidation, but I was not nearly as trusting of what I was confronted with at the grocery store. I found myself unable to see past the unappetizing appearance of watery cheeses or the bizarrely-named "cloudy lemonade."

Such is how I ended up living almost entirely on the BEST cereal ever, Kellogg's Crunchy Nut. I ate that cereal morning, noon, and night without abandon. I loved it, and was perfectly happy to sustain myself on honey-flavored flakes of cereal for the duration.

So you can imagine how distraught I was upon my return to the states to discover that my beloved Crunchy Nut was unheard of in my home country. I tried everything that even closely resembled that cereal, including Honey Bunches of Oats, which absolutely does NOT hold up, and is not even REMOTELY the same thing.

"Surely you can find something similar," fellow traveler and roommate Julie would say. "I wouldn't think it'd be THAT hard. It's just honey-flavored Corn Flakes!"

"False," I petulantly replied, then added wistfully, "A Crunchy Nut substitute does not exist for me in this land."

This is the part of the movie where the screen would darken, and then a line of white writing would appear, reading "7 Years Later."

From Wikipedia: "Crunchy Nut (previously known as Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes) is a breakfast cereal made by Kellogg's. They were first introduced to the UK and Ireland around 1980. The cereal is Kellogg's second most popular cereal in the UK after Special K. In 2011, Crunchy Nut was introduced to the US Market."


Upon hearing that my favorite cereal could now supposedly be found at my local grocery store, I indeed stormed the aisles of my local food provider in search of the perfect breakfast food. And there, among the Fruity Pebbles and the Kashi Granola... it wasn't. No bright yellow box! No Kellogg's-labelled package proclaiming "NEW!"


But then. (You didn't think I'd leave you without a happy ending, did you??) My not-so-local grocery store to the rescue! It's true: up the road a piece, in a grocery store I do not often frequent, sat boxes of exactly what I was looking for. I picked up a box of Crunchy Nut amidst memories of my Oxfordian semester and headed to the checkout counter.

Of course, the biggest question one would have at this point: Would it taste the same? Had I built it up in my memory to be better than it is in reality? Would the American import be less tasty than its British counterpoint?

Scene: A bowl, a spoon, skim milk, and my honey-covered friends. (The cereal, I mean. Not actual friends covered in honey, as hilarious as that would be.) The verdict? Even BETTER than I had remembered! I went through that box of cereal in less than a week, even taking the last bit of it to work to eat for lunch on Friday.

The lesson here is, obviously, that DREAMS REALLY CAN COME TRUE. No matter how big it is, even if your dream involves breakfast cereal, it can happen.

Dream big, kids. Dream big.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thank You

UPDATE as of 5/13: Amy is being discharged from the hospital TODAY! When she heard the news she shouted "YES"! Thanks again for all of your prayers. :)

Morby Girl Cousins...

Thank you for your e-mails, texts, thoughts and prayers regarding our cousin, Amy.

She's been in the hospital for 12 days with pneumonia, most of them in ICU. As of today she is ventilator free and hopefully moving out of ICU!

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank God.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Val and I have a cousin named Amy. She's one of a kind.
(Amy with my mom)

Fierce hugs.
Amazing dancing.
Outrageous costumes.
Hilarious personalities. *Yes. Personalities. :)
Dearly loved by our family.

Amy is currently battling a critical case of pneumonia. She's stable, but it has been a long and emotional week - especially for her parents.

Will you add Amy to your prayer list?

Will you ask specifically that:
1. Doctors will have wisdom for her treatment.
2. That she will take a quick turn for the better and be up on her feet dancing and twirling and wearing her Hannah Montana wig soon?
3. That God will grant peace.

Thanks bloggies.
UPDATE as of Monday morning: Amy is still in ICU but she remains stable and receiving the oxygen she needs. Continue to keep her in your prayers. Thanks, the Morby sisters.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Grandma: How do you even get pneumonia? How do you catch it?

Carter: Isn't it... Oh wait, that's hypothermia.

Grandma: I know it has to do with fluid in the lungs. Fluid. Hey, maybe that's how they named it! Flu... Fluid.

Valerie: Pneumonia, Grandma.

Grandma: Oh, right.

Carter: How did they start spelling that? Why is there a "p" at the front of the word?

Grandma: Yeah, I don't know how they came up with that word! Valerie, do you know?

Valerie: No, I don't know. Do you want me to look it up?

Grandma: No, don't look it up! You always have to look everything up! Don't you ever just sit and ponder something?

Valerie: Not really. If I know the answer is out there and I want to find it, I don't wait to go chase after it.

Grandma: Hmm. Ponder. I wonder where that word comes from.

Carter: I bet it has to do with the word "pond."

Grandma: That's good! You're probably right!

Carter: People'd just be sittin' by a pond, thinking about something...

Grandma: Pondering. That sounds right. I think we should all pick a word and try to find where it came from.

Carter: Like... radio.

Grandma: Well, that's because it goes out, in a radius. <moves her hands outward>

Carter: Is that why? I never knew that!

Grandma: <Laughs>

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Missing Gene

I'm drape deficient. I don't have any hanging in my house and I just can't seem to get excited to start. We were lucky to get paint on the walls. But after cleaning the blinds and surveying the situation, we've both decided it's time to get something over the windows. We have dark blinds that keep out the morning sun, but they aren't very pretty. (If you speak drapery, please put on your creative thinking and dreaming for the following.)

The challenges:
Three windows
Green walls, white bedding
The accent color we are considering is khaki/tan/burlap
I am under guidelines to stay away from floral

So please... I know that this is speaking to somewhere out there. Hunt for some photos, post some links, make some suggestions, and help a girl out! (P.S. Although I know how to sew I do not have a sewing machine.) Thanks and all that jazz.