Friday, July 29, 2011

The details are covered

As if waiting on a job isn't stressful enough, there is the part where I have to move halfway across the country. As I've gone through this process I kept feeling like there were points where God was saying, "I've got it covered."

I live in a pretty amazing apartment, minus the raccoon drama, and the apartment is in a house that has five other apartments. There has only been one other apartment that I've really wanted here. It has a huge kitchen and a large back deck. So I had been waiting for the girl that lived there to get engaged/married (she was dating someone). She ended up getting married, and back in the spring after I had applied for the first job at MU, I came home and she was moving out.

Of course, my mind started going a million miles a minute, and I was already stressing about what if I move upstairs and then have to move again but what if I don't go to Missouri and miss out on the kitchen up there and on and on. After 15 minutes of this, I knew I had to find out what was going on. I emailed my landlord, and after apologizing for not offering me the apartment, she told me that she already had someone to move in.

I felt like God just said: "Don't stress, I've already taken away the decision for you." And so I was saved sleepless nights and moving twice all in about 20 minutes.

But now of course, I needed somewhere to live in Missouri. I was so lucky finding this apartment sight unseen in a city I didn't know at the time, I just wasn't sure it would work out again. And I've had the best landlord, and even she was excited for me when I got the job. For weeks I had been checking craigslist multiple times a day and not coming up with the location I wanted.

On Monday I finally found a place that met most of my criteria, but I was jumping through hoops with a rental management company that weren't easy to jump through long distance. And then on Wednesday I found the perfect house, in the best location with a wonderful landlord included. I'm holding off on showing pictures of the inside until I have my stuff in there (rather than the chaos of old tenants in the process of moving out). But here's the outside:

The current tenants didn't give notice of moving out until July 11. I'm not positive when the ad was put in the newspaper, but the ad itself was vague and I first came across it on Tuesday. So if this process had gone any faster, I would have never found it and settled for something I wasn't quite happy with. And guess what it has? A DISHWASHER! Not sure if I'm more excited about that or my very own washer and dryer included in the house.

God had all the details worked out, and He managed to save me some stress along the way.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The back story and God's timing

I wanted to share a bit about the way God has prepared me for and worked out the details of my new job and move back to Missouri.

For about a year, I've struggled with some discontentment in my current situation. There was nothing terrible, but I knew I wasn't thriving in my work and didn't have the passion and interest I used to have. I started to apply for some positions in the area but never seemed to get anywhere.

While I've always been big on job security and having benefits and financial security, this spring I stepped outside of the box and considered something pretty risky. I fought hard for a role I thought was made for me and was willing to accept the risk involved. But I ended up really disappointed.

I found some hope in that disappointment and was reminded that if I thought this particular thing was perfect, then whatever God has for me is even better.

At that point I was determined to stay in my current city. This place has become home, and I have such great friends and community here. But when I was challenged on my insistence on staying, I had to question my motives. After two years of learning about idols, I still missed a very obvious one in my life. I realized I had made my comfort in this city an idol. I wanted to stay here more than I wanted God's plan for me. My prayers always had a "but," i.e. please change this situation but let me stay here.

With that conviction, I opened myself up to looking beyond opportunities in this city. And I found what was even more perfect than the position I fought so hard for. I found a posting for a one-year position at my alma mater working with students in the journalism school and at the city newspaper there. Even six months before, I would never have considered a temporary position like this, but after the experience of preparing to accept some risk with a previous opportunity, the one-year term actually turned out to be part of the appeal of the job.

There was a long process after I found this position and a lot of waiting, even a rejection involved. But God's timing is perfect and He used that time to mold it into the right job for me and prepare me for the possibility of moving.

More to come on this.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Well, the waiting is over. I can't wait to share how God has led me back here:

(That's the University of Missouri for non-Midwesterners.)

But for now, I'm getting moving estimates, searching for apartments and squeezing in a visit to see a certain baby girl.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dining out

I've eaten seven meals out in the last 10 days. Three meals were when I was out of town, but the other four have been at great local restaurants that I've managed to go two years without visiting. I've had some great meals and stepped outside of my usual menu picks.

Of course all this eating out means I have a lot of great produce going bad in my refrigerator. But it has inspired me to improve my zucchini fritter/cakes.

But I realized after dinner on Tuesday that all this eating out has given me a chance to catch up with friends and get to know new ones. Basically the same group has gone to three meals together, and at the first meal there were a few people I had only spoken with in passing or our prior conversations were limited to small talk. But over the course of three meals together, I've gotten to know people better and had some shared experiences that are worth retelling.

I've written about this before, but I grew up in a family that ate dinner together most evenings. We didn't eat in shifts or in front of the TV. We sat down together and talked to each other during dinner. I don't think I could pinpoint specific memories, but the kitchen table at my parents' house is what I think about when I think of my family and my experiences growing up. When I go home, I still love to sit at that table and talk with whoever finds their way in the kitchen.

Anyway, I was just reminded over the past week of how great it is to share a meal with others and have that community. Even though I've gotten pretty good at cooking for one, it's still more fun to share a meal with friends. And I think that's a good reason to put off cooking green beans another night.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Restaurant week

It's restaurant week here and that means trying new-to-me restaurants and trying some new dishes.

For dinner on Tuesday I had a zucchini fritter (way better than what I've tried to make), oyster mushrooms (who would have thought I would have chosen mushrooms over lamb and pork) and a bacon waffle with peaches (yes, a waffle with pieces of bacon in it, it was excellent).

And then because we were right next door, we topped the meal off with frozen yogurt. I am sad to say that the flavors have changed at the yogurt place, and I really miss the strawberry lemonade.

Round two of restaurant week is on Thursday.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Raccoon update and a garden

I've been afraid to actually write this because I thought I might be jinxing it, but it's been more than a week and I feel like it's true: The raccoon and her babies are gone. I haven't heard any scratching in a long time and there have been no sightings. I'll probably never know if she left on her own or because of the chemical they used. I laughed pretty hard when I saw the new Allstate commercial; I think it wraps up the whole saga pretty well.

Even in the midst of the raccoon saga, I really love the apartment I have. But one of the things you notice is that the when the house was renovated the money was spent on the inside, not the outside, which I do appreciate. However, I almost chickened out when I saw the porch that looks like it could fall off at any moment, and the backyard seemed to be where lawn tools came to die. The porch is still in bad shape, though I see it as charming instead of ghetto now. But the backyard has been transformed into an actual garden with beautiful flowers and a variety of vegetables -- tomatoes, squash, broccoli, cucumbers. A few pictures:

Of course this was transformed without any help from me. The guy who takes care of the house did all the work, and it is pretty amazing. I can enjoy it from my back deck and not feel like I live in the city. This week I noticed that several of the vegetables were ripe for picking, but no one seemed to be harvesting anything from the garden. Despite the story of the little red hen playing in my head all week, on Sunday night I broke down and picked a tomato to put on my pizza. I'm hoping to get some in my share this week, so I'm not tempted to "borrow" anymore!

I think I'm actually looking forward to this week, even though it will be busy at work, I have some fun things planned in the evenings and for the weekend.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I am not good at waiting. I hate traffic jams but find sitting in airports even worse. I tend to arrive places a little bit late, so I don't have to wait on other people. And even if I'm only waiting a few minutes, my iPhone comes out.

On Monday night (the Fourth of July), I had to wait for AAA. I had driven to the fireworks with friends, and while we waited on the fireworks to start, the battery on my car died. I thought my car might start again after it had a break, but it didn't and then jumping off someone else's car didn't work either. So we were left waiting for AAA.

In the 30 minutes we had to wait, I quickly reached frustrated. Here's a glimpse of what was going on in my head: The battery on my car has never died. Why would it die now? I know I've had the car five years, but it has been so reliable, why would it have a meltdown now? I just spent a lot of money on maintenance. And I have friends that want to go home. I have to be at work at 8 a.m. I do not want to sit here and wait for some guy to show up and attempt to jump my car off. What if he can't jump it? There went a bus, do you think we could catch a bus home at 10:30 p.m. I can live without my car this week, can we just leave it parked here so I can go home?

Yeah, not good at waiting. I couldn't read my friends' minds, but they seemed to have a much better attitude. They talked and laughed and enjoyed the "rogue" fireworks going off long after the main event ended. They managed to enjoy the waiting. I know they were anxious to get home too, but they didn't complain about an extra 30 minutes of time to hang out.

Right now I'm waiting for something that's bigger than AAA or a traffic jam or a delayed flight. And I've been struggling with the waiting. I've been distracted and not really present in what is happening right now. I know God's timing is perfect, but I've been desperate to move forward without Him.

A friend sent me a devotional that reminded me of why we wait for God. It is in waiting that God we see His power. If I do it my way, I miss seeing the perfect plan God has been working out in His perfect timing. It echoed the verse I'm memorizing right now: "Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you." Isaiah 30:18a.

I want to wait and see God's power, and as I saw on Monday night, the waiting doesn't have to be stressful. Yes, I'm tired of waiting, but waiting means that I have time, time I should take advantage of. So I'm trying to enjoy the waiting and focus on my present, not the future I can't control.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sign of a good recipe

Want to know the sign of a good recipe? Your mom calls and offers to send you her recipe before realizing she got the recipe from you. So on to some recipes...

I found a link on Twitter to a peach cupcake recipe from smittenkitchen, and she recommended cutting the sugar and the icing and treating them as muffins. They turned out great, just the right amount of peach. Here's the recipe:

Peach muffins
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups full-fat yogurt (or buttermilk or sour cream) 
  • 3 large peaches, peeled, cored, and chopped smallish (1/3-inch dice)
 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 28 muffin cups with paper liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition, and then the vanilla. Gently mix in the yogurt. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the peach chunks.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

And here's another good peach recipe from Southern Living: Peach enchiladas.

I had okra from my share and needed a side dish for a Fourth of July picnic, here's what I made from AllRecipes:
  • 1/2 pound fresh okra, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Place the okra and tomatoes in a bowl. Pour in the olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir until the vegetables are coated with oil. Add the panko bread crumbs and stir. Spread the vegetables on to a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and the okra is lightly browned.